Thursday, 13 November 2014


Uk bikes have front brakes on the drive side lever, continental bike the other way around.
Nothing new there, cars are setup differently as well, no biggie... or is it?
As a right handed person I find feathering on the breaks easier to control with my left hand as the right arm is stronger, hence my constant use of the rear brake even on descents, which is quite wrong as the bike tends to lock and skid at speed.
I'm forcing myself to brake with the right hand now but it is weird. After so many years it feels as though my left arm is kept on a sling and my right arm is doing the steering and the breaking.

Caliper brakes are designed to have the front brake on the left lever as the cable simply sweeps down into the slot on the right of said caliper, while from the right lever, when exiting the bar tape it has to bend a lot more to drop straight down.
Conclusion, I might have to swap the cables and go 'continental'.

1. How are pros' bikes set up by their mechanics as they might need to swap them en course?
2. Do pros from UK learn from the beginning on continental bikes?
3. Is this part of the reason why top British riders (Froome/Wiggins) are rubbish in comparisons when descending?
4. Am I simply nuts and it's just me having this problem? Should I just swap my arms through surgery?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Having followed Felix Lowe through his blog on Eurosport for years under his pseudonym Blazin' Saddles and via his humorous yet savvy twitter account, picking his book to read over the summer was an easy choice.
I was amazed to learn that, although one of the main voices in cycling in the UK, Felix had yet to turn pedals in anger prior to this adventure. This fact makes his feat, riding from Barcelona to Rome via Hannibal's Alpine route, all the more astonishing.
Add to it the fact that his "rest" days were used to climb Alpe d'Huez twice in the same day, Ventoux (only once though) and various detours from the planned route, and you have a truly outstanding story.
While other cycling books tend to be sensationalist with various doping tell-all blubber, this one is a refreshing account of a non-pro like any of us, albeit a lot taller than most of us.
We've all spent countless hours recounting tales of pain and elation at conquering mean climbs, embarrassing mishaps and legendary bad weather days, and this is the core of this tale.
Using the route taken by Hannibal and following his footsteps, or rather hoofsteps, on his march to Rome, Felix and the rest of the gang ride 2,800km through the Pyrenees, Ventoux (just for fun), the Alps, half of Italy down the Apennine spine, through Tuscany with his Chianti region.
Lowe is very erudite and witty, his sense of humour is used to portray his companions but also to show his own aloofness and inexperience as he only had less than a year to prepare for this trip.
There are tales of Hannibal and his army of elephants, tales of cycling, current and vintage, and plenty of wine choices to complement mouthwatering culinary masterpieces.
If you love cycling and history this book is certainly the best combination. Beware, the author does not hold back when writing about problems of the bowels or trying to hide his private parts from semitransparent lycra shorts. But he did write stadia as a plural for stadium, that alone deserves a 10/10.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


August 2005

After a few attempts at commuting to work on my mountain bike, I decided it was time to try a proper ride as I felt that surely I knew everything there was to know about cycling. So, I bought a map of Wales, yes a paper map, and plotted a course which I thought would be suitable. All on roads, of course, as I didn’t really believe there was all that difference between my steed and a road bike. I didn’t know the area and the nature of the terrain so I opted for a loop around the Elan Valley and its stunning reservoirs, which give Birmingham clean water.
I booked a B&B in Rhayader in at Gigrin Farm, which doubled up as a Red Kite feeding farm. It had the smallest room I’d ever slept in but was cosy and, although spartan in its offerings, it suited me fine. No space for my bike so it had to ‘sleep’ in the car.
I proved to be quite an amusement (i.e. ridiculous) to the hosts, not many lycra clad guys around the area, at least back then, and I could sense from their looks the many questions as to why I would entertain the idea of dressing up like that.
The plan was to head down the Valley, coasting the reservoirs, then up towards the village ominously called Devil’s Bridge Falls, then head south and across to Beulah for the final leg up to Rhayader.
Up to that point in my cycling experience I had not done any sort of climbing and this trip would surely confirm my belief that I could ride anywhere by now. Little did I know.