Archive for January, 2010

Oooh…Daphne, and celeste!

January 31, 2010

…yay, finally got round to taking the time out to go and look at road bikes.

Having asked for advice on the best local bike shop (LBS) in London on the Bike Radar forums, Geoffrey Butler Cycles down in Croydon was mentioned by a few posters – a quick look on their site showed they were in the middle of a January sale with 20% off 2010 bikes and at least 20% off all accessories. A quick phone call to see if they had the Specialized Secteur in stock confirmed they did…well, I didn’t need much more persuasion to go and take a look!

Now, when I get in my head that I want something it usually is what I end up with. Might take a few weeks, but chances are it’ll eventually be mine once the seed’s been planted in my head that I want it. Which makes the fact I didn’t walk out of the shop with a Specialized Secteur pretty amazing – I didn’t even try it out!

After quite a long chat with Steve at Geoffrey Butler he showed me their range of 2009 Bianchis that they still had in stock, and mentioned he could let them go for 30% less than their ticket price…

…I’m now an owner of the Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Alu C2C 105! Yes it’s a bit ‘tarty’, a little ‘poncy’ but it’s lovely to look at and a joy to ride. Big, big thank you’s to Geoffrey Butler Cycles and in particular Steve who took time out (three hours) to sort me out with everything I could possibly need despite the store being short of staff and busy with customers. I’m sure I’ll be back in future for more bits and pieces.

Now, I mentioned it was a bit ‘tarty’. This is because it’s painted in traditional Bianchi celeste (pronounced che-les-te in Italian, se-lest in English), a turquoise-y colour. There’s a few myths about why this is their colour, ranging from it being the colour of the Milanese sky, the eye colour of a former queen of Italy for whom Edoardo Bianci made a bicycle and that it was a mixture of surplus military paint. The shade changes slightly year on year but it remains distinctive and considered to be the only colour a Bianchi should be seen in, the same way a Ferrari should be red!

Anyway…what with the looks of the bike I thought I may as well name ‘her’, and given the colour there’s only one name that sticks out…Daphne – could it be anything else considering the colour?

Basically, the Via Nirone is simply a nicer looking touring bike than the Specialized Secteur with their blurb offering: ‘the Via Nirone bikes are Bianch i ‘comfort’ road models, with geometries designed to deliver speed and comfort in equal measures for the long distance rider’. Sounds ideal for my plans, which leads me nicely onto them…

I still need to sort out the leave from work, but the plan is to go for two weeks at some point between the middle of May and the middle of June. I’ve got my route more or less sorted in my head having browsed a few excellent blogs on the LEJOG experience. Dan Hargrave’s Lands End to John O’Groats Cycle in particular was interesting in that he’s done the solo LEJOG in twelve days which just so happens to be what I’m planning. So, thoughts are in mind…just need to get them down on paper / screen now. Want to have it all in place come the end of February so that I can simply focus on getting my legs and mind ready.

Finally here’s the stats for the last fortnight, and I think it’s been a solid start to 2010…

Mileage for Week (w/e 24th January) – 94 miles
Longest Daily Mileage – 24 miles

Mileage for Week (w/e 31st January) – 157 miles
Longest Daily Mileage – 40 miles

Mileage for January – 403 miles
Mileage for Year – 403 miles

One down, eleven to go if you believe TfL…

January 17, 2010

Transport for London issued a press release a few years back that claimed the average London cycle commuter is only likely to get wet on twelve occasions a year – well Thursday was the first of 2010, and boy did it rain!

I’ve got myself some waterproof socks and gloves but they couldn’t cope with the conditions, and certainly weren’t helped by the surface water that was coming up off the roads thanks to my wheels (I really should get some mudguards sorted). I think I must have wrung a good three or four pints of water out of my clothes once I got to work, London’s finest of course…filthy black!

To be honest cycling in the rain doesn’t really bother me. Having a dry set of clothes in the bag means I’m probably in a more comfortable state than most once I get to my desk – and I haven’t had to endure a journey in on a clammy Tube carriage or bus…give me the bike any day!

Not a lot else to report really. A nice solid week’s cycling all in all, with four out of my five commutes made by bike.

Right then, finish as always with the stats for the week…

Mileage for Week (w/e 17th January) – 82 miles
Longest Daily Mileage – 23 miles

Mileage for Year – 151 miles

Rumours of my demise…

January 11, 2010

…have been greatly exaggerated! Apologies for the lack of updates since October but you know how it is when things get busy – I’ll try to keep the updates a little more regular now we’re into 2010.

Anyway, a quick summary of 2009…

The number of miles I managed in trips to the gym and work, as recorded in the Silly Commuter Stats table (kindly run by a poster on bikeradar),  totalled just over 1,200 miles – all of which done between July 21st and December 24th. Not a bad total but one I know I could have done better on. This year I’m aiming for a figure of at least 3,000 miles from my gym trips and commuting.

Since my return back from the Christmas break I’ve noticed a few more problems with the Marin. Not sure if it is actually wear and tear getting to it or just that I’m more or less settled on the fact I’m going to get myself a new one, but the gears are slipping a bit and the brakes definitely need a re-tune. Will probably end up getting it all sorted over the summer and have it ready as a winter hack come the latter months of this year.

Anyway, that’s 2009 out the way and a look forward to 2010 and my LEJOG attempt. I’ve pencilled in rough dates and put together a bare-bones plan – basically a two week stretch in the latter half of May which should give me a reasonable chance of decent weather and lack of midges in the Highlands!

I haven’t yet had a chance to try out the Specialized Secteur properly, although I did sit on one in Evans Cycles down in Chiswick last week. I will be looking to test ride one next Sunday and will hopefully enjoy it enough to purchase one – failing that I should have a road bike of some description to start practising by the close of play next Sunday on the recommendations of a member of staff there!

Right then, to finish here’s a quick update of stats for the first week proper of 2010…

Mileage for Week (w/e 10th January) – 70 miles
Longest Daily Mileage – 24 miles