Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Trois V Symbiotic Link Experiment - How Deep Is Your Guylove?

So Doug's was in Finland, and Matt was in some sort of work-related funk. I had no idea whether Doug was back, or whether Matt's spirits had recovered, and didn't know whether they were heading to do laps at Regent's Park this morning or not.

I couldn't send a text message last night, because we were in the midst of a power cut and I needed to conserve the battery on my 'phone.

So I decided to undertake an experiment.

Everyone knows that if it's Friday, it's 10:30, then it's time to party. Three o'clock on the last Saturday in May is the FA Cup final. First Saturday in July - Tour de France starts.

But do all the Trois V know that 7:30am on a Tuesday and Thursday is laps? I sent out powerful thoughtwaves to the others: 'laps tomorrow, laps tomorrow', and considered rigging up some sort of batsignal style light in the sky (until I remembered the power cut), and went to bed, confident that my compadres would ride with me in the morning.

And when I arrived?

No sign of anyone. Thus proving, using science facts, that there's no such thing as psychic communication.

Let's hope we do better on Saturday for the Official Trois V Tour de IC* Prologue and Breakfast Ride.

Trois V!

*Inner Circle

Today's blog post comes to you courtesy of...

Trois V's drink of choice may be High5 (except for Doug and Jon), but we're willing to make exceptions. TheBikeShow is on the case with locations.



Friday, 25 June 2010

Bike Porn Friday

To your left, dear reader, is a picture of the Kona Major Jake, which Wired magazine really rather liked, while giving the impression that they don't really understand bikes one bit. We think it is deserving of a Bike Porn Friday slot. And Doug certainly does.
Meanwhile, in the search for something to hack around town, ride along tow paths, follow National Cycle Route 4 almost to Cornwall, and possibly take part in some cyclocross in winter, my eyes were drawn to a second-hand team issue Terra-X in Condor. I doubt I could carry off the pink bar tape. And to where would I affix the requisite panniers for the great trek west?
The search continues. But the Canadian Major Jake does look very fine (and, as the geeky Wired points out, contains a good dose of atomic number 21)
Trois V!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


During morning laps today, heat one of the Regent's Park Sprint Series was won by Doug, largely due to Matt getting caught in idle chatter; Matt took heat two despite taking off insanely early: he hung on bravely as Doug applied late pressure. Thereafter we immediately realized that early morning sprinting can have side-effects, and so we declared a truce, largely to prevent the title of the first song below from occurring. The second song is just for fun.


Monday, 21 June 2010


There has been much discussion among the TroisV lately concerning the best way for Dr. Matt to blow his Cycle2Work voucher. Add your own voice to the right. We all know he's gonna end up with another Condor.

Here are two songs to help Matt think.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saturday Night's Alright for Cycling

Bleary eyes and heavy heads greeted the TroisV this morning, the result of too much Zot at the Smithfield Nocturne last night.

It was a cycletastic Saturday for all concerned, a day that began with the first ever club ride given an official send off by the Club Mascot, resplendent in her New York Mets onesie.

The route/rowt (which can be seen here) will become known as the TroisV Divorce Ride, because Doug and I spent an early part of the ride arguing about who had invented the club's name, whilst Matt, fearing that he would be caught in a ferocious tug of love should the row escalate, pedalled along in the gutter whimpering 'Flotsnoo, flotsnoo!' in an attempt to calm the warring factions.

After further discussion of the spelling of the words 'team' and 'you', we settled that the invention of the club name was a team effort, and as we continued talk turned to more important matters, such as what sort of bike Matt should spend his cyclescheme voucher on. The current favourite/favorite is a tourer/cyclocross bike, preferably in steel to allow us all to sing a hearty tune. The TroisV awaits the results of his deliberations with interest.

The ride was a good one, peppered by a mere four navigational errors, only two of which were my fault, on a loop that saw us lapping the world's smallest roundabout:

fording the swollen Thames:

hearing a woman describe her own dog as 'an idiot' in Wandsworth Park, (where I took the first ever TroisV bike-mounted photograph):

Inspecting a pagoda:

and seeing some Hare Krishnas:

It was a fun route, but a mere prelude for the main fun of the evening, the HTC Smithfield Nocturne.

When I suggested to the others that we spend Saturday night hanging round a meat market, they were understandably thrilled. When I explained that we were going there to watch all manner of bicycle races, they were a little less excited, but still enthusiastic. So it was with a spring in our steps that Doug, the Club Mascot, the Club Mascot's mum, and I arrived in the heart of London for the fun and games.

For those who don't know, Smithfield, a derivation of its middle ages name 'smooth field', sits on land to the north and west of the original city walls of London. Used as a livestock market for nearly 1000 years, it's been the site of fairs and celebrations for... oh.

I'm sorry. Wrong blog.

The Smithfield Nocturne is a series of bike races held on a summer evening in London for the past five years. It culminates in an elite-mens' criterium race as the sun starts to set. It's free to attend, and there are all kinds of cycling-related events going on as well as the racing.

We arrived just as the first heat of the folding bike race was underway. In this event, men and women, mostly all in fancy dress, have to sprint 20 yards to their folded bikes, unfold them, and then race for three laps. A few people take the competition seriously, but mostly it's a fun event to kick off the nocturne. Riders in tutus, tuxedos, and even one game fellow in a dress and heels speed round and try not to fall off.

Oddly, the prize was a Dahon bike, when it looked to me like the top 30 or so riders were on Bromptons, due in no small part to their speed of unfolding.

Having watched the first heat, we headed off to look at the stalls, and marvel at all the fancy car-shaped bike parking that had been laid on for the evening.

We paused to take a snap of the official Rapha Condor Sharp team car, which we hope Matt will be able to look at and still remain in control:

and next stop was the stalls, where Doug joined the London Cycling Campaign (as all our London readers should) and we saw our friends from 'Look Mum No Hands', who set us on the road to ruin by selling us excellent beer and giving us badges (the Club Mascot now sports one proudly on her sling). They were also doing a roaring trade in caps. Next week is bike week, and the LCC will be in residence at LMNH, so you can tick off two TroisV recommendations with one trip.

Some genius at mobile 'phone manufacturers HTC decided that the best way to see the racing, if you weren't wedged at the front of the railings, was to use a periscope. These were particularly handy for seeing lots of other periscopes, and a clutch of them will soon be winging their way to Matt's nephews. Their other use was to create this, the demon eyes of the Trois V:

Sauron has nothing on us, so tremble, enemies, our demon eyes are upon you:

After the first heat of the folding bike race, it was the turn of the architects and developers, because the Nocturne was kicking off the London Festival of Architecture. No one was paying much attention, but someone jolly fast was crowned fastest architect in London, and we went to the pub to await Matt, his companion, and his jolly expensive camera. Doug ate the world's smallest pie, I kept the Club Mascot free of fish and chips, and we missed most of the Cycling Weekly support ride (won by Wayne Crombie of East London Velo). Luckily, we finished in the pub in time for the most hilarious event of the evening, the Laverstoke Park Ice Cream race, featuring Kristian House, the UK Road Race Champion, on an ice cream delivery bike, trying to beat three other riders whilst trying to shift merchandise on the way round.

Sadly the TroisV were unsuccessful in claiming any free ices, and had to settle for buying one (which was excellent) and we settled in to watch the elite women's race,
which was won by Hannah Barnes (not pictured).

Then it was time for the longest skid competition, in which fixie riders had to see who could not brake but not pedal the longest. Or something. Here's one of them now:

This man is actually trying to stop his bicycle, not make another one.

When it was time for the men's elite race, the main event of the evening, Matt finally let me play with his camera. He set the controls for five frames per second, and with his high-tech kit, my amazing photographic skill, and three whole SD cards worth of data we got the following two shots:

What an age we live in.

Matt then seized his camera back, and ran off to take photos of the winner, Ian Bibby, and the two very special guests:

He came back saying something about having been 'sprayed by Mark Cavendish', and we quickly said goodnight and left him and the Manx Missile to it.

Before his soaking, Matt had used his charms ('I've literally bankrupted myself buying your kit!') to persuade Rapha to let the Club Mascot and her mum use the passenger seat of their broom wagon/coffee bar to breastfeed.

Huge huge thanks to them for doing this, as small people were getting cold and hungry, and we might have missed the end if they hadn't been so nice.

It was a really fun night, and it was packed too, which made it even better. There's another one in Edinburgh next month, and then one in Blackpool in August. Just watch out for tramlines, you crazy kids.

Trois V!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Bike Porn Friday: Steel is real

But so is aluminium. I know, because I bashed my head on my Brompton's handlebars earlier this week, and it still feels like I need a reset.

However, a great debate is currently taking place among Trois V about the benefits of carbon, steel forks, and the necessity or otherwise of spending a cycle2work scheme voucher. Into this cauldron of debate enters Dan Craven's (of Rapha Condor Sharp) new steed, which will be seen tomorrow in the Smithfield Nocturne. It is mostly steel. It draws on the Leggero. It doesn't really match the wheels, to my eye at least, and it looks admirable against a fine blue barn.

There's more on the comic's website.

We will also be having a club ride tomorrow: 8 am at the southern meeting point.

Take it away, Ryan:

Trois V!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

List no. 1: things you could do with £140

1. Spend a pound for every minute of the double album of Spiritualized: Live at the Albert Hall
2. Buy some
tri-bars or aero helmet for Trois Vs' forthcoming 'Tour de France Prologue Time Trial Test and Tea in Regent's Park'
3. Purchase a pair of
Dromarti leather race shoes
4. Buy a return
flight to Istanbul
5. Purchase
equipment for the team mascot
6. Get a cheap, but adequate set of Mavic or Campy
7. Buy some Rapha
bib shorts
8. Buy some replacement
car keys for your dad, following the incident of the keys at the Tour of Wessex, be aghast at how much replacement car keys cost, and wonder why Rapha bibs don't have a better key pocket

Trois V.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Stuff in the Spotlight, no. 1, part II: Dromarti Race Shoes

There's always a bit of apprehension before a race, even, or perhaps especially, if it's something as unknown as the inaugural Rapha Gentleman's Time Trial, which took place on Sunday. Into this space enters a certain amount of badinage.

This is not scientifically verifiable, but I calculate that around 60% of all the conversations revolved around my footwear. While fellow team mates in the Tweed Run team teased Simon Mottram of Rapha for that company's lack of a footwear line, there I was, wearing what can only be described as a beautiful pair of handmade leather Italian shoes. With cleats. Treacle and honeyed in tones, slim, with fine, and perfectly-lengthed leather laces, and stitched to perfection, the shoes (Dromarti Race shoes) were just the ticket.

If you want a perfect-looking, vintage styled pair of cycling shoes, then, quite simply, look no further. If you are concerned about comfort and performance, then read on.

Rapha Gentleman's Team Time Trial - Tweed Run Team

Fit: these are Italian. So they are slim (but not too slim). But as they are leather, they should stretch a little. I wear 45 in Sidis. These were 45, and perhaps a little longer.

Fit technology: laces. They've been around for a while, and pretty hard to improve on: light and adjustable. Not so long that they will get caught up anything, and with a nice 'give' in them, so when you tie them, they stay tied. Lots of holes, rather like climbing shoes, so you can tighten and loosen for the perfect fit.

Comfort: the pinch point, as it were. A lot of thought and skill seems to have gone into the heel area, somewhere that I often have a problem (mine are thin and bony). No slippage at all on climbs, and an appropriate level of padding. The uppers are essentially perfect. Right from the start they felt like a glove, and ten hours later, and the best part of ninety miles (there's a long story about why we took so long and didn't finish), they were still comfortable. It was a hot day. I was wearing woollen socks, but they remained cool and comfortable, thanks to leather's innate properties and a judicious amount of ventilation holes.

Sole: It looks like a composite or plastic sole, but there is some carbon in there as well. These are very stiff; there's a small amount of give by the toes, but not quite as much as the Sidi carbon sole. As a result, I got a bit of a tingle in my toes when climbing. Perhaps a few more hours would break them in, but they are certainly soles you could race in, should you wish. The soles also look pretty good, with a good set of cleat points (Look, SPD-SL, toe cleats), and no carbon 'weave', which would be out of aesthetic place.

Practicality: There are bumpers front and rear on the soles, there's a hatched patterns as well, and are well-balanced to walk on with cleats, as much as one can be on cleats. There are also 'normal' soles and SPD versions available, for all-day, all situations wearing (Sportivo, Storica). They weigh a little more than a pair of Sidis, but the beauty of leather has to be paid for somehow. Construction is very fine, with excellent stitching, and excellent leather - they looks like they should last as long as your knees will.

Faults: I've thought of one, after much head scratching - the tongue folds over slightly in a slightly irritating fashion. This is about it, as long as you are happy with a stiff sole.

In sum: if you're feeling retro, and Trois Vs often does, then it's hard to think how these could be beaten. These certainly deserve the Trois Vs assured nod of approval.

Available from http://www.dromarti.com. £139.99/$164.22/195.39 Euros.

Our faithful US readership will note that Dromarti ships internationally.

Sounds like Ryan Adams has some new records coming out soon, so here's a kinda-linked in song by Mrs. A, here covered by Slick Shoes.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Sea! The Sea! The Rapha Gentleman's Team Time Trial

We may be hardened cynics here at Trois V, but sometimes the jaded façade cracks just a little bit, and the soft gooey core leaks out. Today's ride applied just such a toffee hammer to my shell at least, and brought out some of the joy of cycling. It also brought to mind the thin line between horror and happiness - more of that later.

It was the Rapha Gentleman's Team Time Trial, and I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Tweed Run team. Decked out in some Dromarti leather cycling shoes (review to follow), Rapha 3/4 shorts, merino 'tweed' socks, a crisp white shirt, bow tie and topped with a tweed cap (and all-important helmet), with fiver fellow tweed runners, we set off to Brighton and back from the Rapha Coffee Club at 9 am, meaning to stop at three checkpoints en route. We were one team of twelve (including a noble team from our friends at Look Mum No Hands); such was the lack of faith in our vitesse, we were earmarked as the first team to head off.

A wise move, on Simon Mottram's part, as we couldn't even manage to get to the photoshoot on the start in time (one member was completing his photo release; the other was voiding his bowels). No matter, we headed off.

Given the tweed ethos, we thought it appropriate, and even apposite, to avoid major roads, and seek out minor routes that were the way things used to be. Sadly, an irritable GPS and lack of faith in a paper map led to a bit of a delay around Mitcham, until we got our groove on, and found a delightful route across the north downs.

Alas, a near-tragedy took place, thanks to West Sussex's inability to fill in potholes, and an ambulance had to be called. At the very least, the poor victim was wearing a helmet, after some discussion last night, the conclusion of which was that it would be a good idea. It was.

Now for the science bit: stress and shock causes the body to do various things, including eating up all the sugar it could find. From this point on, we were at the risk of bonking. We did out best, and I managed to get up Ditchling Beacon with some dignity, the Rapha cameraman pointing his videocam in my face the whole way up. I tried to evoke Lance Armstrong's blankness, crossed with the elan of Eroll Flynn. Needless to say, I didn't manage it.

Brighton was a sunny treat, helped by Hannah's cheer and the Rapha coffee van. The Bike Show's Jack took a dip in the sea, and I paddled. Fish and chips were eaten. We decided to celebrate the spirit of things, and to turn the day into a jaunt.

This was accomplished by an ascent of Devil's Dyke (one of our number goes by the online moniker of General Lucifer), and a fine selection of minor roads, tracks and byways. Games of cricket were observed. Amusing cycling signs became photographic opportunities (see above). Gentlemanly banter ensued. Passers by were greeted with waves and doffs of cap. The icing on the cake was the golden sunshine and a pub in Ansty, which was staffed by two friendly barmaids, who appreciated our tweedy attire. Due to the aforementioned delays, and the need to meet various partners, parties and trips back to Leeds, we were forced to take a train for the final tedious forty miles. No matter, we still took on the worst of the hills, cut a good dash for the cameras, and managed a good average speed over a decent distance when things weren't going horribly badly. And in warm tweed.

Back to Rapha Cafe, for a special award of Prosecco, and a very decent party.

Take that, Portland.
stop press: contact from Matt, who admits he won't be winning any beauty contests, but is looking forward to some RP laps.
And finally, thanks to Rapha, to Ted and Jacqui, to Hannah and the Rapha van crew, to my fellow Tweed Runners for forming such a debonair, yet skilled peloton, to the passing nurse and locals on Fox Hill, and, most of all, to the hugely professional West Sussex ambulance service. A debt of gratitude is indeed owed.
Tweed Smith:

Devil's Dyke:

Marge my friend, we haven't learned a thing.

Another week, another poll. This time the vote was on whether amateur male cyclists should be mocked or respected for shaving their legs. The overwhelming result (80% of the vote) was for mockery. This will be disappointing news for Matt, whose sleek lady legs are lovingly wrapped in Roman sandals whilst he rides to Brighton with his other team. Or something. (STOP PRESS: one of the Tweed Run Team went down, and sadly is as a precaution being taken to hospital. The Trois V wishes him well for a speedy recovery).

The poll result renders otiose the upcoming discussion on the matter of shaved legs, which is just as well as I can't be bothered with talking to people, it's far too difficult. I much prefer writing and reading, and so I was extra-specially delighted to find that one of the tasks for part II of Let's Go Ride a Bike Summer Games was to read a book about cycling.

The chosen book was Bike Snob, written by our new pal, the Bike Snob NYC. The Bike Snob has a blog, much more established and better than ours, which sets about "SYSTEMATICALLY AND MERCILESSLY DISASSEMBLING, FLUSHING, GREASING, AND RE-PACKING THE CYCLING CULTURE".

We at the Trois V are well aware that love and hate are two emotions separated by the thinnest smearing of chamois cream. One of our number has described himself as 'basically waking up each day an angry ball of hate', and those who have had to witness my tortured ambiguity when it comes to supporting my national team at the world cup will testify that I am no stranger to self-loathing driven by twisted love.

The Bike Snob is of similar pedigree, and his blog is, to put it very crudely indeed, basically a long scream at the idiotic side of cycling, put into words, in what seems like an attempt at catharsis to stop himself beating a hipster to death with a bicycle polo mallet.

What's not clear from this brief summary is that all of this hate and anger, pushed to an extreme for comic effect, is driven by a pure and luminous love for the simple joy of riding a bike. In the book, this is the main event.

Of course this wouldn't be the Bike Snob unless despair and sarcasm were served to those who would use cycling as a lifestyle accessory or marketing tool, but the Bike Snob book is, for the vast majority of its all too few pages, a wonderful, hilarious, passionate and happy celebration of the bicycle and the act of riding it.

Even we jaded and cynical types at Trois V HQ, who thought they had already read the best of what could be written about the bicycle, had our eyes opened by the Snob's book. The early chapter about early New York society cyclists (I'm imagining Henry James lookalikes and women in gigantic dresses) heading out to Long Island just to experience the pleasure of riding on a tarmac road made me think of all the bike rides I've done, and realise for the first time that one of the things that sticks in my memory about many of them is whenever there has been a particularly smooth and clean bit of road.

If it were just that chapter that pointed out what was unseen but always present in our love of cycling, that would be cause enough for us to consider inventing a Trois V seal of approval for Bike Snob's book. But the whole book is simply wonderful, and does what all the best books about cycling do: it makes you want to ride your bike.

And it has stickers. We commend it to you even though the Bike Snob has no blogroll and can't link to us to help improve our traffic levels upwards from the mid-teens (but we love each and every one of you). To butcher a quote: buy the Bike Snob book, you will not regret it and you will live. We've added ourselves a second club award to show our appreciation, over there to your right, under the Wyvern.

So with a bike repair job done, a bike decorated (albeit inadvertently with dog hair) and a book read, we've really gone to town on the summer games, and we've still got until the 27 June to test ride a new kind of bike, and carry a load on our bikes (besides ourselves). Fingers crossed for a Trois V victory! In celebration of our summer games efforts, a song.

Snob, make what you will of the standing drummer.


Trois V!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stuff in the Spotlight, no. 1, part I: Dromarti Race Shoes

The picture to your left is Simon Mottram, 'Mr Rapha', giving us a briefing from the prow of a fine-looking citroen 'broom wagon' yesterday evening.

The venue: Rapha's very fine pop-up shop on Clerkenwell Road in London's famous London. (Trois Vs still favours LMNH has its official hang-out, but they do cool stuff there, including good coffee and nice-but-pricey kit. The other members of the team will be posted there after their laps, awaiting my return to the capital before making their way to the pop-up shop.)

The event: the briefing for Sunday's inaugural UK Rapha Gentleman's Time Trial, in which your correspondent will be participating as a member of the Tweed Run Team. And this is where a recent post comes in. The question, you may recall, is how should a gentleman be shod for such a feat.

It was a question that puzzled me. The following look is the exemplar (more such photos over on http://www.doozzi.com/):

but not so practical with my Shimano SPD-SL pedals; the race is 120 miles after all.

Condor had very kindly almost offered me a loan of a fine-looking Classico for the jaunt (alas, the demo model is out with Cycling Weekly), so it occurred to me that now was the time to make use of Trois Vs' global reach and readership, and do a review for the fine firm of Dromarti, who import hand-crafted Italian leather shoes, like they used to make, along with a sole for cleats (the shoes are by the firm of Marresi, sold in Italy as the Eroica). Shoes with soul, comfort and style.

A review pair was sourced on Thursday, and is now being cleated up, ready for the big test tomorrow. In terms of comparison, they will have to live up to the comfort and performance of my beloved, but very bling, white Sidi Ergopower 2 Vernices, and the practicality of my old Shimano touring shoes. So far, they look very promising: they fit like a glove, seem well-ventilated, and not too heavy given that they are leather with a composite sole (700g for a pair of 45s: these are quite long and slim; normally I have 44, but wear 45 for Sidis. As these are leather, the relatively slim fit will probably stretch suitably, so you may want to opt for your usual size).

Here are some photos. They are, I think you'll agree, rather lovely. Did I mention that they look great?

A full review to follow, assuming I make it back from Brighton, along with further information about Trois V's global reach.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Bike Porn Friday!

(click on the image for the full picture)

Despite yesterday's teaser, Bike Porn Friday will not feature tweed shoes. Or shoes. But don't fret, foot-fetishists: you'll get your day tomorrow. In the meantime:

It's the Schwinn Varsity, ladies and gentlemen! I pulled this one from the website of White Trash in New York City and I'm sorry to tell you that it's been sold.

Other than a crappy ten-speed from Toys 'R' Us, a Schwinn Varsity was the first big-boy bike I ever had. It was a hand-me-down from the son of friends of my parents. It was green. It had lights that ran on a dynamo that you flipped onto the tire. It was awesome. In the summer I rode it to Sunset Pool every single day, pretty much. I pretended I was riding it in the Tour de France. But enough about me.

The Schwinn Varsity is an American classic, or at least the Schwinn website says it is. There was a single gear Varsity, too, but whether that single gear bike developed into the geared beauty you see above, I don't know. I suspect that's what happened, though. If you really need to know, you can visit the Schwinn Forum, and if you do know, you can let everyone else in on it in the comments here. The important thing is, I loved that bike, even though it was too big for me. I think after I was finished with it, my parents handed it down to the son of somebody else.

I'm also fairly sure that an enormous percentage of kids who grew up in the Chicago area rode a Schwinn at some point in their lives.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Trois V Repair Shop - canine edition

At TroisV, we like riding our bikes. We also like fixing them, though we, individually and as a group, are of variable proficiency in matters mechanical. Thus, the TroisV Repair Shop is a blundering guide to fixing stuff, written for blundering idiots by blundering idiots. Or anyway, it's an account of what happens when we get the tools out.

Today's lesson: removing dog hair from your tyre.Obviously this isn't an everyday maintenance job, but fortunately it requires no special tools. It does, however, require you to have dog hair on your tyre in the first place.

First find your dog

There are dogs everywhere, but mostly they are on leads or well behaved. You could apply dog hair to your tyre by finding some abandoned by a dog, perhaps by a recently watered tree, or in a recently vacated basket. Or you can get your dog hair fresh off a dog. This is a more daring approach, but a lot more satisfying in the long run.

Today I found a dog in Regent's Park.

Picture the scene. Dr. Doug and I had just completed a pleasant set of laps, largely uneventful save for being stopped in the street by an armed policeman to allow the US ambassador to leave his residence to go ambassading.

I headed to the Broad Walk to cut down the park and head into the centre of the city for work. I eased off my earlier 'pace' and meandered gently down the broad walk sharing it happily with walkers, joggers, squirrels, and friendly bouncing canines.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere (about ten yards away) I was charged by a ferocious devil dog:

well, perhaps a bit smaller than that:

and maybe a bit less satanic:


Anyway, as this albino Scrappy Doo charged, yapping, towards me, I swerved to avoid it. The dog, having a much shorter wheelbase than me, swerved too, intent on... well, its intentions were unclear, but they seemed to involve wanting to swallow my front wheel whole.

Realising that collision was imminent, I bravely abandoned my previously deployed and well rehearsed crash procedure - crashing - and had the presence of mind to clip out of my pedals and not overplay the front brake.

The dog now recognised that its mouth was much smaller than my front wheel, that I was a lot bigger than it, and that I wouldn't be stopping as soon as it might like. It turned sideways, and bent itself into a banana shape to try and avoid impact.

Flashing through my mind was a story I heard once about a cyclist hitting a squirrel and slicing it in half.

I hit the dog. It yelped. I stayed upright. It ran off. Its owners apologised to me. I asked if the dog was alright. They said it would be fine. I suspected this might not be the dog's first attempt at bicycle swallowing. It sat at the side of the path, giving me a dirty look. I went to work.

And I had dog hair on my tyre.

Then Remove the Dog Hair

This part is very easy. Brush the tyre with your glove or hand, and the hair comes right off.

I have no hard feelings towards the dog, and I hope it feels the same way about me. Here's Kate to sing a song of forgiveness for both sides of this adventure.

Trois V!

Bike Porn Friday Teaser

I am reluctant to steal the thunder from the forthcoming blog post from a fellow founder member of Trois V, so I shall be swift.

Yet more evidence of Trois V's global reach is pouring in; I can't reveal what this means at the moment, but have no fear, all will be clarified. Meanwhile, I leave you with a question, and a clue to the subject of tomorrow's Big Bike Porn Friday (and our very first proper review): should you be participating in, say, a Kentish Town cycling apparel-sponsored Gentleman's Race, and you were a member of the Tweed Run team, what would you wear on your feet? Oh, and the shodding would also allow you to manipulate Shimano SPD-SL equipped cranks and pedals.

Find out Friday. And come back soon for another post.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

And it's goodnight from things

A day that started with club laps at Regent's Park (it rained, we rode, police officers became suspicious about Dr Doug's pro-USA hand gestures as we passed the Ambassadors residence), led on to the discovery that the Club Mascot's weight exceeds the upper limit of the Trois V HQ kitchen scale, now ends with the polls closing, a resounding victory for stuff, and the passing into history of things.

In its closing statement things congratulated stuff on its victory, and wished it well for the future. Stuff now goes on to govern, with a huge mandate of 60% of the vote.

In other Trois V administrative news, a constitutional amendment has successfully been proposed and is duly made. Inspired by the vanity of one of our enemies, we have decided to invest in a club motto, and that motto is:

For Love of the Sport, Not of Ourselves

Or flotsnoo for short. The new constitution is here. We can feel our enemies quivering with fear. If anyone wants to try and translate it into latin, please go ahead in the comments.

One other constitutional amendment met with more heated debate. The great question of shaved legs on male amateur cyclists. Should these be permissible, like moustaches and tattoos? Or should they be banned, under pain of ridicule from the rest of the club?

The matter will be put to discussion of the Club at LMNH on Sunday, and to aid us in our deliberations, we are opening a second poll! Thrills! It's over to your right.

We close with a tribute to those who fell in the name of our entertainment. We salute you things!

Flotsnoo! Trois V!

Monday, 7 June 2010

TroisV Repair Shop

At TroisV, we like riding our bikes. We also like fixing them, though we, individually and as a group, are of variable proficiency in matters mechanical. Thus, the TroisV Repair Shop is a blundering guide to fixing stuff, written for blundering idiots by blundering idiots. Or anyway, it's an account of what happens when we get the tools out.

Today's lesson: replacing the brake blocks.

The thing is, when your brake blocks look like this:

they probably aren't stopping your bike as well as they should. They got worn down because you ride in lots of traffic, and because when you're flying down the descent at 40 m.p.h. after climbing the bejeezus out of your legs, and there's a gaggle of elderly and tipsy tourists in the road, it's a good idea to squeeze those levers. So anyway, you gotta replace those bastards.

Tip one: Don't take off your tire. It seems like a good idea at first (easy access to the brakes!) but actually, it's just an unnecessary pain in the ass.

Tip two: Don't take the whole brake off, either. You'll just have to put it back on, and there's several parts in there (at least if, like me, you're running Shimano bike-stoppers; I don't know about other brands, but I'm guessing they all share similarities).

So anyway, you just need to undo that little bolt and slide the pad out. Then you slide the new one in; they're labeled left and right and forward, so even an idiot like me (being able to read is my single marketable skill) can't screw this up. If, like the last time I took my bike to the professionals to have it serviced, your brakes have previously been tightened rather than block-replaced, you may need to loosen the cable to get enough clearance for your bike. Don't be scared by this! It's easy to loosen the bolt and and then retighten it once you've got everything adjusted properly (and thank you to the mechanic at Chamberlaine Cycles in Kentish Town for being utterly uncondescending as he explained this to me this morning; it was a pleasure to have my ignorance magicked away with a simple and polite explanation and smile).

So this picture explains the difference between old and new pads:

And this one shows my new, stop-ready brake blocks:

This is a superfluous (egregious, one might say) picture of my Tour of Wessex medal and the sweetass jersey that I wore around the course:

I also found it helpful to listen to Bad Religion while performing these repairs.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Breakfast Club

Normal service was resumed this morning as, despite being woken up in plenty of time by the Trois V Club Mascot, I rolled up for laps ten minutes late. No matter, we had a splendid time despite the delayed start.

There was much activity in Regent's Park today, as it's the Camden Green Fair and Bikefest. That started at noon, so we didn't participate, but on each lap we weaved through increasing numbers of stallholders arriving on Chester Road. The thought crossed our minds that we might end up as cyclists being prevented from following our usual route (root/rowt) by diesel powered vans arriving to set up for an eco festival. Happily that ironic fate didn't materialise. Each lap we were however surrounded by mods on scooters converging on the Inner Circle. Apparently this was the starting point for the eleventh Great London Ride Out. Destination: Southend. We hid our rocker tendencies and pedaled on past, posing manfully for their photographer each time.

The laps were both a prelude to breakfast, and also our entry to:

The Let's Go Ride a Bike Summer Games 2010. We've come late to this, as we do to most things, but it looks tremendous fun. LGRAB is a bike blog based in Chicago, which makes at least one Trois V heart sing, and is full of really good advice and articles about cycling in the (flat, windy) city. The idea behind the Summer Games, as you can see here, is to perform various bike-based tasks each week and then write in about them. There are also fabulous prizes to be won.

This week's tasks (you get to pick two from five) were to go on a group ride (check), and to say hello to a cyclist at a red light (also check). The first part was easy since the whole Trois V were out together for the first time in months. The second part was also easy, and Doug took to it particularly well. Not only did we say hi to a cyclist at a red light, he also repeatedly said hi to one of the marshals of the Green Fest, gallantly ignoring a first lap snub and building up to a big, showy turn and wave on the final run round.

A fine first entry to the games, and chapeau to LGRAB for coming up with this excellent idea. We'll be sure to report on next week's activities in due course.

Our next important business was breakfast at Look Mum No Hands, which is now easily our favourite/favorite cafe, and may be the location for much of an upcoming study leave. Food was chosen, and as Matt was lamenting his order failure (a pain au chocolate when (English) muffins and super muesli were available) the owner started to put bunting up round the entrance to the cafe. When we asked why, we were told that it was partly because of a jumble sale at the cafe today, but more importantly because he had some new bunting.

Bunting for bunting's sake - the Trois V is down with that.

Having listened to Matt explain how his chin got cut, in a confused, rambling way that made me wonder if he was being guided by my GPS, further ordering jealousy was engendered by the arrival on a neighbouring table of gigantic milkshakes. The Trois V resources were pooled (we robbed Matt) and I was despatched to order our own glasses of lactose deliciousness, calling at the jumble sale to buy this fabulous t-shirt for Doug:

You can wear that at the top of the hill where you live, but be careful in Hackney, or hipstersmay attack.

Matt then proved he was the Cool Hand Luke of the club by rising to Doug's challenge of 'who on earth could eat this much marmite?', and having marvelled at his ability to hold back the tears we headed off into the late morning, pausing to wonder with the owner of LMNH why one of the Trois V's enemies didn't get dizzy when all they seem to do is ride round and round Richmond Park.

Trois V!