Hope wheel – rim cracked

Sometime April/May last year, I’ve bought a hope 20five rs4 wheel through a local bike shop in Croydon, where I used to live at the time. I did some miles on it, have done LEL and other audaxes, loved the wheel, etc! I put the same wheel on the new Cube bike I’ve bought for TCRNo6 and did some miles, without any issues.

Fast forward to a few days ago, I bought my bike in for a service in a local bike shop, and got a call from the mechanic asking me If I knew about the 6 cracks in the rear wheel rim!

Gotten in touch with hope the next day and they kindly offered me to send the wheel back, so they could inspect/replace the rim. Alternatively, they could send me a replacement rim to the bike shop and they could do it if they agreed to it, but i’d pay the fees for rebuilding the wheel. All of this has happened 6 days before the transcontinental race…All bike shops are booked out, no one even wanted to see the wheel! and hope are not able to turn it around so fast.

Having said all of that, SPA cycles agreed to build me  wheel, but on centerlock hub, which would require an adaptor to 6bolt disc!

I have chosen to buy a newly built wheel, which would fit exactly as the old wheel has fitted. It is a hope wheel, so I am giving them another hope! Hopefully, they’ll fix the old wheel without a fuss when I’ll get back.

 

To be continued!

Dunkirk – Amsterdam bikepacking (sort of)

My friends were already camping in Amsterdam whilst I was cycling to work on Friday morning and by the time I got to work I had an idea of possibly cycling to Amsterdam overnight (Friday – Saturday) from Dunkirk. Had a quick look at train tickets and ferry tickets, I didn’t hesitate in booking them.

I frantically cycled back home after work to get ready as much as possible for the trip as I only had two hours to make sure I had everything packed! and I didn’t much stuff that was pre-packed!

The ferry was leaving midnight and my train was to take 2.5h hours to Dover! Just before 8PM I left Redhill and was on my way to Dover ferry.

When I looked at the weather forecast and the wind directions, it seemed to be all in my favour…oh how wrong I was! When we got to Dunkirk, it was raining, not strongly, but it was enough to get wet shoes and I didn’t pack my overshoes! (I probably would have if I knew it was gonna rain at the start).

I left the ferry terminal at 3 AM and the next 80KM or so I stopped more frequently than I would have liked so, firstly stopped in a bus stop to put on my sealskinz socks (supposedly waterproof) and waterproof gloves. The socks turned out to be quite shitty at least for me! They just got drenched in water after a few hours and were holding water rather than breathing. Two other stops were for bakeries in the morning and then once the rain stopped to a light drizzle at around 6-7AM I found a goat cage in a little village which had benches, that looked perfect for a nap! The bench was wet, but I was tired enough not to care about this and just laid on the bench to sleep. When I got up, a goat was standing two meters away from me and he was staring at me!

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I reached the Breskens – Vlissingen ferry at 10 AM. The ferry seats weren’t too bad and I managed to grab another quick 20 minute nap whilst crossing over. From Vlissingen, I cycled for a bit and stopped in Middelburg, found a cafe that did some lunch and have a very nice and strong flat white. After devouring the food, I ordered another flat white with orange juice, downed those, got some water in my bottles and set off again, I spent about 45 minutes in total at the cafe, which wasn’t too bad, but could have spent less there, the next 100 KM went by rather quickly. Every 50km or so I stopped at a petrol station, to get some water, ice cream and a bit of food.

I must have reached Rotterdam at around 3-4PM, it is always lovely to go via the Benelux tunnel! At one of the petrol stations, the cashier noted my well tanned red arms! He was gobsmacked that I was cycling to Amsterdam from there, and was even more so surprised when I told him I’ll reach Amsterdam this evening! (I only had 60-70k to go).

Stocked up on bars and water, I was ready to tackle the last bit, this was pretty much the home run, I was still feeling good despite the fact that I have only slept for an hour within the past 30-something hours!

I reached Amsterdam (Zeeburg camping site) shortly past 8 PM, which made it an 18hour trip from Dunkirk.

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Sleeping bag review [ Highlander Trekker Superlite

I have bought this sleeping bag specifically for the transcontinental race due to the weight and pack size. I have a few other sleeping bags which I have used for bike packing trips, but they are all much bigger in size and did not tick the box of being small!

 

  •    Some stats of the sleeping bag:
  • Season Rating 1-2 season
  • Open Size 220 x 80/50cm
  • Packed Size 18 x 12cm
  • Weight (grams) 480
  • Comfort Temperature (°C) 14
  • Extreme Temperature (°C) -2

I had an opportunity to use the bag once already for a night when I cycled over to Wales for the Brevet Cymru Audax. I used the bag as well as bivvy bag on a bench in a park not too far from the start! During the night, the temperature probably did drop to around 4-6 degrees. I did not get too cold, but I would have felt if the temperature dropped any further, probably on the lower limits of my sleeping setup. Unfortunately, at that time I did not have my skeleton sleeping pad, the night would have been even more comfier!

 

You probably are able to get to the advertised compression size, but I believe it would strain the straps a lot if you compressed as much as possible everytime, so I tend not to overdo it, as it would probably break over time and when storing, I undo the straps at all.

 

 

Brevet Cymru Extended post ride write up

This is my post ride write up for brevet cymru audax and my ride to the start and back!

Day 1:

Set off comfortably on Friday at 9 AM towards Chepstown in Wales. After 50k I met up with a colleague of mine, with whom I pre-arranged to meet up for a small ride of the section I was doing, after 18k or so, we departed and I was on my own again for the rest of the day. At around 1PM or so I stopped at pub for a burger and beer! (I was taking it easy as I had plenty of time!) Whilst I waited for the food, I adjusted my tri-bars and I kept doing so through out the day to get the most comfortable position. I will still need to buy bigger risers for the profile design aero bars I am using.

Crossed the bridge into Wales at 9-PM, continued on to outskirts of Chepstow, where the ride was starting on Saturday morning. I managed to grab a Dominoes pizza and a bottle of coke and cookies, had a meal and had a browse for parks around on google maps to find a bivvy bag spot. It was my intention to bivvy rather than to book hotel 🙂 Fell asleep shortly after midnight and got up at 4:30AM or so, packed up and headed towards the community hall down the road!

 

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Day 2:

At the hall, picked up my brevet card, had cross buns with jam and several coffees, before setting off. I stayed at the front with fast guys and girls for the first 30 km, averaging 30km/h, as this wasn’t really my pace, I dropped bag before another small group caught up with me and I stayed with them for the next 40k where at 70k mark I got a puncture going downhill. Surprisingly, not that many riders passed whilst I got the puncture sorted out, the next control point was only 10k away. I can’t remember where I stopped for food, but I am sure it was a petrol station, usual sandwich/wrap/coke/ice cream combo.

The next control point was a west end cafe (150k), there a few riders and A LOT of motorcycle bikers, so I only got my card stamped and carried on. I set off toward Tregaron (200k), a free control at the hotel, grabbed orange juice ice and water, went to supermarket for a sandwich and a yogurt drink. Ate the sandwich, finished my pint of juice and water and set off again for the next half of the ride. In retrospect, I didn’t have to into the hotel, I could have just gotten a receipt, but I followed another rider as we thought there would be a stamp! but the girl did sign the cards 🙂

300k – back at west end cafe, where I grabbed beans on toast, stupidly I forgot ask for grated cheese on top! Having eaten that, coffee, can of coke in my jersey pocket, put on my leg warmers, changed my socks and off I went for the last 100k. We were supposed to reach a control point – community hall at 341 – no sign of the hall at all, myself and another guy decided to push on for the last leg, for some we rode together, he was stronger at the climbs, so we departed and then caught up with each other. At about 20k from the finish, the guy had a puncture and I caught up with him, stopped and held my phone as a light for him to fix his puncture, as he didn’t have a head torch (neither did !).

Reached the control point at 1:20 AM, a few faces around, most stuffed their cards through the letter box and set off home, as they were locals or had caravans nearby! Myself and another person, sat by the door waited for the organiser to come back and to open the village hall up! Another kind rider came up to check on us and kindly invited us back to his van for warmth! He kindly offered gin and tonic, which we kindly accepted! at about 3AM, organizer arrived back and opened the hall, went in for a kip and got up 6AM.

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Day 3:

Set off at 6:30 AM for the leg home, cycled on for 20k or maybe more and found a petrol station for food and then carried on repeating the ritual of petrol stations until I reached Hungerford  which was roughly 1PM and maybe about 100k in. Had some proper food at a cafe there, I had been there before several times on other Audax rides. Shortly after, I stopped for sleep, around two hours or so and carried on, stopping at a small shop, where I met two other riders, who were amazed where I cycled from! Then another petrol stop station and I was at home roughly at 8PM or so.

There were a few mistakes:

  1. Not taking the head torch I was given by my cousin for long rides! (I forgot).
  2. Not taking baby wipes.
  3. Not taking gel hand sanitizer which I specifically bought for longer rides.
  4. Forgot to buy tri-bar food bags, which would have been handy.
  5. Second pair of bib shorts were loose and did not fit well (doh).

 

Nonetheless, good test ride before transcontinental in less than three months now!

Brevet Cymru Audax

This year I am taking part in “Brevet Cymru” Audax ride. This will be a nice test ride for transcontinental race.  Should be quite tough and a rewarding 400k ride:

I will be riding to the start from my home in Surrey. This will be a 220 km ride, a warm up for the audax! I might even ride back, who knows!!

Post-ride report will follow up, wish me all the best!

new bike

Rather than keeping my new sequoia, I ordered in a brand new carbon bike!

I’ve gotten myself a Cube Attain GTC SLT Disc Road Bike 2018 – hydraulic disc brakes, carbon frame, weights 8.4 kg.

Should do the job for transcontinental just fine I think! Can’t wait to get my hands on it and start doing some mileage!

 

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Specialized my unofficial sponsor

A few weeks I found some rust accumulating on my the chain stay tube whilst cleaning bike, it turned out to be a crack:

I bought the bike just year ago from Evans and I still had a years of warranty on the the frame. Stripped the frame and popped to the shop to book it in.

Specialized agreed to replace the frame, except they sent back a complete new bike! rather than only just the frame. Pleasantly surprised!

 

Thanks!

LEL 2017 summary

I have completed London – Edinburgh – London ride this year in 107 hours. My starting time was at 3 PM on Sunday and I came back Friday at 2 AM.
I pushed through to Louth at 244km thinking I could have a sleep there, I got in at around 1 AM or so and there were no beds or any “good” food left, after waiting for a bit, I got some porridge, a coffee and pushed through to Pocklington 341km as I had a bit of snacks on me. I cycled most of this section with another guy and we got in at around 5-6 AM on Monday.

Slept at Pocklington for about 3hours, ate a lot, had a shower, changed my kit and pushed towards Brampton where my next bag drop was and where I was planning to sleep. North Penines and Yad Moss were quite hard, we had rain and strong winds on the way to Alston. A few riders decided not to stop there, but I stopped to dry off a bit, had delicious hot soup and I got wrapped into a very warm blankie. I had a five minute power nap by leaning my head against the wall. The volunteers did ask me if I wanted to book a bed there, but I declined and pushed on towards Brampton which was 30km away. This was a good choice as the section was probably mostly down hill and it felt like we got to Brampton quite quickly. Slept at Brampton for 4 hours and left at around 5 AM or so Tuesday.

The views were spectacular on the way to Edinburgh! got there about midday Tuesday , had some food and drinks, and made a move back to Brampton 865km, slept there again for 4 hours or so and left early in the morning and pushed towards Pocklington 1080km, where I slept at again for 3 hours. and left at 1 AM Thursday.
Thursday night was calm, but day time was super windy across the plains, where there was no shelter from the wind! At about 7PM the wind has calmed down a bit and manage to make good progress since till Loughton where I got at 2AM Friday.

Got my medal and my picture taken and then my cousin picked me up, where I crashed in the cars passenger seat!