Wednesday, 29 September 2010

TroisV Repair Shop: wheelbrows edition

Trois Vs are all a-quiver with anticipation. Yes! We are all in the same continent Yes! It's the Ryder Cup! Yippee! We have no idea what that is, but we are still heading for Wales, come rain or shine, or as the Met Office assures us, rain.

In order to practice operating in such a damp environment, Dr Matt headed to his favourite croissant shop, Condor, and stocked up with saddle bags, alloy stems and, most importantly, Crud Roadracer Mk 2 (with Deano Downing on the box). Jez pointed out that they now took Amex, for those interested. And the chap behind the counter told me that Carradice bags (wot I had purchased) last for ages: his parents still had their from their honeymoon. Not sure what I think about that.

All are now affixed, although some saddle swapping will be necessary tomorrow. And for those who wrestled with Crud Roadracers before, fear not: the new ones fit very easily. Dr Matt can now ride anywhere in the pack: fellow Trois V members, please adjust your SKS's accordingly.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Bike Porn Friday: I only went in for a stamp

First off, a big thanks to everyone who donated money towards my charity bike ride last weekend. Your generosity is hugely appreciated.

Now back to more prosaic matters. Bike porn.

Most cyclists in London are very familiar with the 'Condor effect'. You go into Condor Cycles for an inner tube, and come out tens, hundreds, or even thousands of pounds poorer in monetary terms, but richer by far in terms of bicycles and accoutrements. Dr Matt holds the TroisV record for succumbing to this effect, and doubtless he will relate the tale as soon as he takes delivery of the croissant he popped out for.

However, just as brown is the new black, Andy is the new Frank, and Acciaio is the new Fratello, so Stanfords is the new Condor.

As students of its history will know, Stanfords was originally a seller of maps and not much else. But as times changed so did the shop, which, after a brief detour into "distinctly left-wing, feminist, alternative teachings", diversified into a seller of all manner of travel goods.

So nipping in this evening to purchase a single map, I accidentally left with this little haul of bike porn:

I know what you're thinking, 'the copy of Rouleur I get, but what have all those maps got to do with bike porn?'

Well dear readers, the TroisV are going on a little adventure, but you'll have to wait a bit to find out the details...


Sunday, 19 September 2010

By the Purple, Of the Purple, For the Purple

The TroisV owe you an apology dear reader(s). More than a week has gone by without a post.

No Bike Porn Friday, despite Dr Matt's excellent idea of delighting our Finnish followers with the variant 'Bear Porn Friday'

No TroisV Repair Shop , despite the fact that I fitted new handlebars AND changed a brake cable all by myself (with a little help from Sheldon (and I had to have two goes at the brake cable)).

No, neither of these things. We are sorry, readers.

However, our excuses are fine ones. Dr Doug is in the Western Colonies shouting encouragement at his favorite cricket sqaudron, the Chicago Blue Stockings. Dr Matt is probably thinking about Rapha. And I was too busy to post because I was preparing for one of the highlights of my cycling year, my annual charity ride across East Anglia for the Laura Case Trust.

The bright idea of a man whose solution to every question in life is a bicycle ride, but actually established, organised, mapped and generally made to happen by a magic pixie, The Great East Anglia Bike Ride is now in its fourth year of raising thousands of pounds for this exceptionally fantastic charity.

The ride traditionally starts in Cambridge, where Laura studied medicine, and finishes at her parents' home, where they spend the day of the ride wafting the smell of boeuf bourguignon and homemade cider across the fens to entice the riders to the finish line.

The route is just one of the many traditions on this ride.

The first is the start time, always billed at 8:30am sharp, but after waiting for everyone to arrive, having final croissants, last-minute wee stops, and posing for flattering photos:

we usually don't get away until at least an hour after that. Then comes the next great tradition - arguments about directions.

Having spent a happy evening before the ride plotting the route into the GPS, I was confident I knew how to travel the 126km. But I hadn't actually seen the route. "Right!" I cried. "No, it's left" shouted Ben. We discussed it like friends, friends blocking city centre traffic, and then I conceded the point and followed him.

We all pedalled merrily through the heart of the Silicon Fen losing track of where we all were. I looked up and saw a rider in a pink t-shirt (pink and purple being the two colours of the ride) ahead of us. Somehow Ben had slipped past me. I led a deputation to catch up with him and continue the ride. It turned out not to be Ben, but the exact opposite of him - a pretty girl.

Undaunted, I turned to the trusty purple line, and cut through the inconvenience of Cambridge's one-way system to regain contact with my virtual friend. Soon after I espied some of my actual friends, and a quick 'phone call later, the ride was back together again, ready for the adjusting of saddles and the scoffing of Clif Bars.

No TroisV club ride, nor any ride associated with the Trois V, would truly be complete without wheels rolling over a National Cycle Network route, and the GEABR is no exception as the first two thirds of the ride is on NCN51.

Once it gets going into the countryside NCN51 is beautiful, but before it does that, it meanders confusingly through through the Cambridge suburbs. I think at one point it even goes through someone's garden. And we all got very lost, but by cleverly remembering the 'zoom out' button on the Garmin, I spotted the purple line and got us back on track, after a few "scenic" detours.

You really know that the GEABR has got going when you pass under this magnificent monument:

Which is an extremely impressive way to enter a supermarket car park.

From Cambridge the route goes through Newmarket (where that's not sand on the floor, kids), up into the glorious Fens:

Through Moulton (where none were spotted), Barrow (not the one that Lizzie knows), both Saxhams, and into Bury St Edmunds. Now this town is famous both for the Greene King Brewery, and as the resting place of the body of Edmund the Martyr.

What the history books don't tell you is that Edmund actually died of frustration trying to navigate his way out of the town. This year we made it almost all the way through before getting lost.

This is always doubly frustrating because we know that when we get to Bury, lunch is not far away. As we (finally) left the town, the purple line suggested that lunch was left. The roadsign said that lunch was to the right. Caught on the horns of a dilemma, I trusted the purple line, and set off alone with a cry of 'see you at the pub'.

Would I get there first, or would I get egg all over my face? As I passed a sign pointing in the direction I was going that read 'NCN51 - Diversion', I let out a joyous laugh of smug self-satisfaction, and as I rode along the side of the field where the model aeroplanes always confuse some members of the group, I knew that I would have the honour of getting in the radlers to welcome the ride in for lunch.

Last year, we stumbled upon a wonderful pub called The Fox, in the village of Pakenham. So delighted was the landlord to see us that year, that he vowed to put on a barbeque for us this year, and get a few locals along to make an afternoon of it. We smiled politely and thought little further of it, but when he was called the week before the ride, not only had he bought 850 chicken legs, but he'd also booked a Macedonian pop star ("a real one") to greet our arrival.

When I got there, I found this sign:

And I knew that the legends were true.

We settled in for our barbeque:
but, alas, the Macedonian musical marvellousness had not showed. He'd 'phoned the pub to say "Ḱe bide malku docna", and we had to set off without seeing him. Perhaps the video at the end of this post is him, perhaps not, we'll never know.

The bit after lunch is always a touch grim, filled as it is will hills, a full stomach, and a lack of beer. It was made more mentally testing by a profusion of punctures and the sky beginning to bruise, but we pressed on and found our second, third and fourth winds.

The group reached Eye and hatched a plan to shorten the route slightly from the advertised list of villages. I decided to press on the long way round - the purple line had been a loyal servant, so I would honour it by following it until the gps played its strangely satisfying finishing tune.

The batteries packed in ten km from the finish.

Falling back on iPhone and roadsign navigation, I rolled into the finish village a respectable five and half hours of pedalling time and 121km since the start. There I found the local cider baron and his scion; the Club Mascot and her mum; and the Club Mascot's new best friend. It was a veritable baby party. I showered, waited for the others to arrive, and we enjoyed our hosts' glorious hospitality and feasted on protein, carbs and herring,

So, loyal readership, I hope this was a worthy reason for disappointing you with lack of posting this week, and I also hope that you can reach into your pocket and give whatever you can to a fine charity. The link to donate is here, and I and all yesterday's riders will be very grateful for anything you can give:


Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Romance of the Inner Circle

Jon has been taking part in his own twelve step programme, and this is, I think, week two. So, we started at 8 am, meeting not at the meeting point, but en route to the inner circle. I realise I should have started with the phrase, 'I'm Dr Matt, and I'm a Cyclist,' but there you go.

The programme involves, at the moment, going very fast, and very slow and spinny. Which is surprisingly tiring, and I think also confused our fellow circumnavigators of the inner circle: many joggers, a Boris bike being taken for a work out, a few cyclists - and a bloody great bus doing a three point turn. I quite enjoyed the exercise, but didn't have the advantage of Jon's GPS beeping at me, so had to rely on Jon bellowing, 'Go!' to begin my two minute steady state sprint. Steady state means going bloody fast.

I asked how it had been going over the last fortnight, and Jon discussed the merits and demerits of the system. It also allowed an insight into the world of the inner circle - the site of motor-driven liaisons it seems, at least before 9:30 when the parking charge begins. Hence the blog title.

A longer-term relationship began later; we breakfasted and quizzed at LMNH (as well as expanded our chapeau wardrobe), then called in on Condor on the way home. Jon needed some gels and gubbins. He left a few pounds poorer, and with some extra glucose; I left over a grand poorer, having taken advantage of the sale to snag a Acciaio as a winter bike, and a not-quite-fit-for-purpose touring bike. I went cheap on the group set (9 speed veloce), but solid on the wheels, seat, and, of course, the frame. We now have to wait six weeks to meet. This somewhat delayed my initial purpose, which was to pop out to buy a paper and a croissant quickly after the ride. As Jon texted, my errand went 'epic'.



Friday, 10 September 2010

Bike Porn Friday - Double Helping

As our many British readers will know, a traditional school punishment for failing to perform some taskette correctly was to be given double the amount of the same task to do.

So as penance for not posting all week, you, our dear, loyal readers (and the person apparently making their way up the coast of Brazil) we present a pulsating double helping of Bike Porn for your Friday night entertainment.

The first spoonful comes by way of a confession. Matt said that Sunday night's excellent ride was my doing, but I can take barely any of the credit. I in fact got the ride from '30 London Cycle Routes' produced by the marvellous Andreas at the London Cyclist blog. My only contribution was programming it into the GPS, and creating the bit of the route that got us to the start. This was by any reasonable measure the worst part of the ride.

So, if you're in London, either as a wise resident or jealous visitor, why not spend a very reasonable seven quid and download the book? It comes as a pdf, but if you prefer your bike porn in paper form you could always print it out, and for the real traditionalists perhaps get an old man to leave it under a hedge for you to discover on your paper round (what? just me? oh well...)

Your second course of bike porn would be impossible to hide under a hedge, unless we were in the middle of an infestation of giant terrifying insects, in which case people would simply assume it was one of those. I refer of course to the Ciclotte Stationary Bicycle, seen here in a picture from our new best friends, Wired.

As you can see, it's pretty eye watering, as is the price - about five thousand pounds. Which for something that doesn't go anywhere seems a bit steep, but it does, as demonstrated by the manufacturer's photos, look very pretty next to a cappuccino by a lake.

Don't we all?



Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday Evening's Alright for Riding

Jon came up with with a winner this evening: the Only Fools and Condors/Konas route, which takes in many scenes from annals of Trotters' Independent Traders.

It also was something of a spring classic, even though it is now almost autumn. We had canals (which looked somewhat like Wentworth, that concrete classic of the north), cobbles, a spill from Dr Doug, and sprint finish along Old Street to a closing Look Mum No Hands. Such was Doug's eagerness to taste victory (and possibly avail himself of LMNH's restrooms) that speeds of 48kph were reached, leaving Dr Matt wishing for a smaller cog.

There were other highlights. Not only did we see some interesting bits of East London (including: canals, as mentioned, Docklands circuit, a floating church, almost a church tower that looked like a whaler, some bad architecture, some good architecture, Tower Bridge, funny quays and walkways, the Greenwich Tunnel), but Doug met a fellow Kona rider, who was making her way from Bristol to Greenwich (via Paddington). She sought counsel on a route, and latched on to Jon's purple line, like the rest of us. And, as Doug texted, she even spoke to us.

We took 2 1/2 hours, and did it all in metric: a nice touch from Jon, when asked how far we were riding.



Friday, 3 September 2010

Bike Porn Friday: Gooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaal!

Some members of the TroisV are more interested in lemon drizzle cakes than they are in "football", which we Americans call "soccer", as idiots are fond of telling me, but nonetheless, we turn to the fair sport of soccerball for today's porn:

The goal celebrations of FC Stjarnan are making the rounds of the internet (and therefore, also of the lazy "mainstream media") these days, and so always keen to jump on a trend when we can use it to promote our sorry asses, TroisV joins in.

Have a nice weekend.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea


Dr Matt has been moonlighting with another cycling outfit last week in the Italian Alps. Here is the proof - as well as another advertisement for our friends at Look Mum No Hands!

Rather to his dismay, he put on a kilogramme in weight.