Since my last post here, which seems ages ago now I have had a mixed bag of activities and probably among the least of them was actually cycling. Partly because of the decline in the weather now, its getting colder and wetter so nowhere near as inviting as the ‘hazy crazy days’ of summer. No more just picking out a pair of shorts and a shirt and getting out of the door.
Its now a case of studying weather forecasts including wind direction to decide when and where to ride in advance. I have had to postpone a few planned rides though because the forecast was wrong, always a risky business paying attention to weather forecasts but when there are other things going on some kind of plan needs to be made in advance to fit everything in.
On the first of the month I managed to fit in a ride, only just over 50km but it included quite a lot of climbing to get the extra benefit in a shorter time and distance. This was a warm up prior to the Saturday the 4th Team Milton Keynes ride that I was going to lead. It was the only ride I did in that week since the club ride on the previous Saturday.
My Specialized bike is back with me from its loan spell and I spent the first half of the week converting it to a hybrid type bike with straight handlebars, which meant re-doing the gear changers and brake levers to a different type to those used on dropped handlebars. But a rethink around the middle of the week caused me to change it all back again, with some modifications and make use of it as a second winter bike. I took the plastic Crud Race Guards off the Ribble bike and fitted them on it and at the same time ordered some ‘proper’SKS’ mudguards for the Ribble.
I was keen to get the Specialized ready for Saturday. As I said earlier I was to lead the club ride and from past experience I knew it was going to be wet. Not only past experience, but the weather forecast was looking to be right as well just for a change. Ever since I volunteered to lead the ride the the forecast immediately started showing wet weather for that day with sunny days for Friday and Sunday either side of it and it stayed that way and proved to be accurate as well!!
I do have a history of bad weather on the rides I have previously led from rain to ice and snow. I don’t think I have ever led a ride that was in good weather. This also held true on this occasion as well. The ride over to Stony Stratford was dry but it wasn’t looking promising for later and rain was forecast for around 10:00am and we start the rides at 9:30am. We were heading for the ‘The Barn’ cafe at Wilstone but by a slightly different route to the normal club ride. Its normally pretty much an out and back ride but I added an extra bit to make it into more of a loop ride.
There were seven of us braving the ride, the weather having put off the fainter hearted riders. Having said that though, if I hadn’t been leading the ride I probably wouldn’t have gone either. We got about five miles into the ride before the first spots of rain were felt but we pressed on for a bit until it started to get heavier and a stop for donning rainwear was called for.
Despite the rain we still seemed to have a good ride and everybody was in good humour too. The cafe lived up to its reputation for value for money. A sign of the weather conditions was that somebody actually ordered a bowl of hot soup! We all got back safely and the weather started to improve as the ride was drawing to a close. I had the extra 12 miles to ride home then. I was just about getting dry when, just to show who was in charge there was a sudden short deluge of rain for about half a mile just to soak me through again. I actually did a total of 116km and I think about 90km of that was in the rain.
I had left the triple MTB chainring on the Specialized (22-36-46) for the ride but decided during the ride to swap it back to the compact double chainring (34-50) which I had only taken off earlier in the week. I set about doing it on Sunday morning. This not only entailed changing the chainrings over but changing the handlebars and swapping the triple changer for a double that I happened to have in stock and all the new cabling.
I had to call a halt at mid day to start watching the Italian autumn road race classic, the Tour of Lombardy. They too had their share of rain in the 250km or so ride. But i expect it was warmer rain than ours the day before. Predictably Sunday was a glorious day weather wise here at home, the perfect day for a bike ride, a shame it was 24 hours too late.
The rest of the week to now was taken up with various other changes to bikes as a result of me ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ in all the changes of equipment. Among other things I did for instance, I took the handlebars and gear changers from the Claud Butler touring bike to put on the Specialized. This gave me the opportunity to then change the Claud Butler into a hybrid bike for holiday use and casual riding. I had bits of brake and gear cables all over the place along with front and rear gear mechs and changers.
I had to take a trip to a bike shop for some extra brake cable though just to finish off the Claud Butler hybrid and its done and looking good now.
Today I managed a 53km bike ride into Bedfordshire in the middle of a gale but at least it was dry. It was also a try out for the Specialized in its new and final set up (for now anyway). I discovered one problem. I noticed the chainring and crank had worked loose and managed to tighten them up before they fell off.
On my return I did a couple of modifications to the Ribble which will be the ‘bad weather’ winter bike. So everything is pretty much done now, just a few bits to doto the Kona ‘town bike’.
All this chopping and changing and different kinds of bikes put me in mind of this picture I saw on Twitter recently and that I retweeted and also put on my facebook page but it seems appropriate to drop it in here now.
Apart from those cycling based activities, believe it or not there have also been plenty other things going on of a non cycling nature just in case you think my whole life revolves around bikes and cycling. Social events, shopping and house and garden stuff also had their part. I even started to paint the garden fence when the sun was shining for a couple of days and I am about 30 metres of of the way into the 60 metres of fencing that needs doing. All the way up one side and on my way back down the other side.