Monday, 11 October 2021


The title was to be my start time for the BEC CC hill climb on White Lane, my first proper race. Albeit only a short one.

The last hill climb I did was in 2019, read about it here. This was a charity fundraiser so no pressure.

It's a tough hill.

I plan to compete in more events next year. There are a number of local Time Trials that look appealing. Whether this will result in me improving my bike or buying a new more specialised one I don't know. Cost will be a factor, so it may be upgrades for marginal gains as the professionals say.

Unfortunately the gentle ride on Saturday didn't end well. I was nearly home, having ridden at low intencity when I came off on some wet leaves.

I'll spare you the gory pictures of my knee and hip. I woke up on Sunday with a stiff hip. I could pedal but applying max force really hurt. The road bike had a bent gear change so it was unridable. I went to meet Matt on the mountain bike, gently again. See previous post.

So my competitive debut will have to wait until next year.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Sarf London


costa coffee rocky road cake

You're from sarf London, right? That's how the conversation started. I arrived in Westerham and walked into Costa Coffee, past an old guy (OG) sitting near the door. Soon after taking a seat the guy moved to the table next to mine and asked if I was from sarf London, a question that initially caused a furrowed brow. How did he know where I was from? Then it dawned on my; he had heard me make my order. My accent had been distinctive enough for him to make a good guess. I confirmed my birthplace as Charlton; that led him to start talking about 1970's football, and the stadium in particular. I said I didn't follow the sport and had never visited the ground. That didn't stop him explaining the changes over the years, and how his club, Chelsea had fared in matches there. I tried to partake in a back and forth but I was struggling until Matt arrived. He isn't a fan. but knew enough to prolong the chat somewhat. Then he remarked on a Sex Pistols badge worn on the OG's denim jacket. Music being a subject he knows a lot more about. 

That kept the dialogue going; OG had been a drummer, bass player and singer in various bands. OG mentioned a gig he had done where just one person had clapped at the end, we agreed that was very rude. I once went to see a band who had me on their guest list, the rest of the audience had also got in on the same list. Being in a band and playing small venues isn't always glamorous. OG had lived a varied life, having many careers saying some people avoided him because of his wild hair. It didn't seem that bad. He mentioned that to some it made him look like Doc from Back to the future. Matt and I agreed. My suggestion that impersonating Christopher Lloyd could be his next career path had him laughing.

It was time to head for home, we said our goodbyes, he was off to a rehearsal space to practice in preparation for restarting his drum teaching. We wished him good luck.

American Indian teepee at Botley
American Indian teepee at Botley

On the way home I diverted to investigate a teepee near Botley Farmhouse. There was no info explaining the reason for it being there.  The adjacent barn is a wedding venue, so maybe it's part of that.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Clipped in - clip-less pedals

spd clipless pedals

Over the weekend I tried clipless pedals. I know I may have said it would never happen, but I wanted to see if they could make my riding more efficient.

I had shoes with the holes to attach cleats, the part that clicks onto the pedal. I bought the pedals from ebay, it's much cheaper than new shoes and pedals. The type I bought are more usually seen on mountain bikes, but if I am comfortable with them the road bike will get a pair. The reason I bought the shoes last year was the stiffer soles and you can walk normally in them, unlike their road specific cousins. 

I may need to explain to non cyclists, clipless means you are attached to the pedals, but not by toe clips. If you aren't a rider, don't worry if that doesn't make sense. It's just the way it is.

Being attached to the pedals means your foot can't move around, it can't slip off and you can apply force for more of the rotation. I'll need to adapt my technique to see the benefits.

The downside is that you have to remember to unclip when you stop though, or crash to the floor. 

Some initial thoughts after  about 70 miles:

I practiced clipping and unclipping in the garage. I had to tighten the tension screws that determine how firm they grip the cleats. I had them turned right down, but I couldn't tell if I was fully locked in and the slightest movement released my feet. I tightened them to about mid way. Initially all went well.

I had to plan the stops earlier than before and anticipate if I might need to put a foot down.

I had more of an issue attaching myself as I moved off. Finding the cleat and remembering it's easier with my foot at the bottom of the rotation.

I must have been riding with my toes pointing outwards on the flats, now it feels like my feet are being twisted inward, when they are in fact straight.

I'm not sure how much difference they have made; I can feel more power transfer when I climb, especially standing. More muscles are in use, I had a little ache from some I didn't know I had. Accelerating feels a bit quicker. 

When I change down for a hill I don't get a "floaty" feeling as the cadence increases.

On Saturday I went over to visit my sister and mum, nearly thirty-three miles, with an average speed of 13mph; pretty good for the mountain bike. It bodes well for the hill climb next weekend on the road bike. 

There were plenty of times I needed stop, and unclip, only a few caused a mild panic; I was trying to disengage by pulling up and twisting. Just twisting was best, and almost the default by the time I got home.

Then on Sunday just as I was gaining full confidence, I failed to unclip outside my garage.

failure to unclip

At least there was no audience; other people's experiences' included a bemused or shocked group of people on hand to see their fall.