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Puncheur 2012

Evidently we enjoyed ourselves... Intermediate sprint for the cameraman.

Evidently we enjoyed ourselves... Intermediate sprint for the cameraman.

For posterity – and consistency – I’m making a brief record of this, my and Jonny’s fourth Puncheur. In most respects, however, this was a punishing experience that I’d prefer to erase from my memory.

It literally rained all day, beginning as soon as we poked our heads out of the door at 7.30am, and continuing until the late evening. I think the first hour was not too bad, but thereafter the rain got stronger. It was like being sprayed in the face by 10 water pistols – some filled with slurry, others with sandy mud – for 4 hours. Mentally, I lost the will long before the first feed.

Jonny, after his customary light winter training schedule, was much stronger on the day and pulled away from me and Simmo soon after the half way point. I played some cat and mouse with Simmo for about 30 miles until managing to summon some hidden reserves of willpower, leading him by a couple of minutes by the bottom of Box Hill. I summited, red-eyed, sodden, and actually almost brake-less.

My finishing time of 3:59:19 was just inside the Gold time cut-off, but in fact the route was 4 miles shorter this year owing to roadworks, and I don’t think the organisers altered the award times.

Red Bull Minidrome

Just watching this makes me nauseous. It probably falls into the same category of entertainment as Rollapaluza.

Bike Theft NYC

Filmmaker Casey Neistat conducted an experiment in New York City to see how easy it was to steal a bike. The answer? Check the video.

Via Kottke.

Concept bikes #2

Derringer rig.

Derringer rig.

A couple of random concept bikes to round out the week.

Firstly, the Derringer – “A modern interpretation of the board tracking racing motorcycles of the 1920s” – which is basically a really heavy bike with a nice paint job and 3 metres of chain arranged cats-cradle style. I don’t really get it. From David Hardy.

The Arantix by Delta 7 Bikes.

The Arantix by Delta 7 Bikes.

Secondly, the Arantix by Delta 7 – or is it the Delta 7 by Arantix? Who cares, this kicks serious ass. I would love to wheelie drop this mutant off the train at Dorking just to see Andy and Tom’s faces. I imagine it would be the kind of bike coveted by Karl Stromberg, the villain in The Spy Who Love Me, riding it endlessly around his ocean lair and stroking the DNA spiral mesh. Imagine trying to clean it though.


Shirt Shuttle road-tested

I finally tried out my new Shirt Shuttle on the ride to work this morning. The shirt – a casual Friday option – went from ironing board to shuttle, and arrived in central London in very good nick.

Winter Training – The Climb by Garmin

Forwarded to me by Christian, here’s the first LFNP post of 2011.

It’s a beautifully-shot film, and it reminded me of a few things:

  • riding up cols in Europe
  • Rapha’s short season of exquisite movies about riding
  • how I don’t have a Garmin Edge 800
  • how I don’t have a heart-rate monitor at all, ever since my Garmin Forerunner 50 gave up the ghost

Read the rest of this entry »

The Work Cycle

Cool project. I’ve always wanted to work in one of those offices where people leave their fixies propped up against a wall.

My hack bike is so trashed these days I’d have a hard time getting anyone to agree on it being inside, let alone inside a gallery.

Look Mum No Hands – Tour mugs

Want: Tour de France jersey mugs

Want: Tour de France jersey mugs.

£15 for the set – only from Look Mum No Hands on Old Street.

Man the Tour is close. Stupid Wimbledon has been distracting me.

Tour of Wessex #2 (after)

All points of the compass: the Tour of Wessex.

All points of the compass: the Tour of Wessex.

Perhaps not quite the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike, the Tour of Wessex 3-day sportive was nevertheless a triple helping of very tough riding. As ever, the pain and discomfort fades from the memory, in this case leaving a generous sense of satisfaction. There’s no doubt that I felt under-prepared for the event, but my body rose to the occasion, and in fact by the 3rd day I felt much more robust, both mentally and physically, than I had at the beginning of Stage 1. Overall I came 53rd of the 204 riders to finish all 3 days, in a time of 19hrs 46min 07s.

So, a brief overview of the three stages, written quite quickly so I don’t forget it all.

Day 1 (106 miles)

  • Not much sleep (4-5hrs) after a long drive, never good for body or mind.
  • Missed big groups in fast early stages after unlucky traffic holdups.
  • Climbing through Cheddar Gorge was spectacular.
  • Long solo sections battered my morale.
  • Head winds after the third feed stop almost finished me off, I really deteriorated and was ready to pack it in.

Day 2 (117 miles)

  • Good sleep, legs in surprisingly good knick after a massage yesterday.
  • Resolved with Jonny and Duncan to have a more social day and stay together.
  • Good banter and drafting routine in groups.
  • Great to see Corfe Castle and the Dorset coast.
  • Had the option to bail and return to London. Resolved to continue.

Day 3 (106 miles)

  • Just me and Duncan. In the drizzle.
  • First three hours into light rain, riding on someone else’s wheel basically like standing over a garden sprinkler.
  • Great sense of solidarity in the groups now. Good communication, brisk riding.
  • Couple of big hills, including Dunkery Beacon, which was tough but no real issue.
  • Encountered lots of cars in windy lanes banked by tall hedgerows – pretty stressful.
  • Outrageously punchy pace lines towards the end.

The hardest bits for me were not the hills, which I barely seemed to notice; instead it was the brutally efficient pace lines. I’m not exactly built like Thor Hushovd, so leading on the front into a buffeting wind after 250 miles cumulative riding was fairly strenuous. Worse than the lead out, though, was peeling off and being unable to stay on the back when the next rider in line, rested from sitting in the slipstream, then put in a monster surge.

I would definitely say the Tour of Wessex is an absolute must for any sportive rider. The organisation and support were both excellent. Book it up asap, and book massages every day. At £12 for 30mins you’d be a fool not to. And try and book Cleers View Farm – top choice for accommodation very near to the event centre.

The only comment I would add is that the time categories were unrealistic. If Gold is out of reach for all but a tiny elite of riders then the ranges need adjusting. Sure, it’s a hard event, but 4% Gold on day 1, 1% on day 2, 0 (zero!) on day 3? Error.

Parting shot: a self-portrait in the event center bathrooms after the end of Stage 3.

Tour of Wessex #1 (before)

In a couple of hours I’ll be driving down to Somerton for this weekend’s Tour of Wessex. The weather’s looking OK, I’ve done a decent amount of some training, and I’m looking forward to riding the best roads Somerset has to offer.

Sure, it’s going to be brutal. Check out the routes here. 3 days, 320 miles total – more mileage on successive days than I’ve ever ridden before, and I’m not by any means in tip-top shape. I last rode a sportive in early April. The one consolation is that Jonny has even less form, if last weekend was anything to go by. However, knowing his ability to recover fitness quickly, he’ll no doubt be dropping me around the 85-mile mark, as per usual.

Check my tweets @strangerpixel for news as the event unfolds…