Wednesday 18 February 2015

A poorly but well loved Brompton

Well yesterday I had to leave BBB at my local bike shop as his rear hub was grinding and making alot of noise etc. The hub normally does this every time I clean but goes away after a short time. This has been going on for over a yr maybe longer after a clean. I finally had enough and took BBB in to my guy at Londonfields Cycles for him to have a good look at it. I thought if anything it just needed taking apart and re greasing.

How wrong I was.

First of all it seems that I've got water & MUD inside the hub. But not from a recent ride, from what he says its been like that for over a yr atleast. One set of bearings & cradle have rusted pretty badly and had to be replaced as well as the cone on the drive side. Also seems there are some worn out parts that would need replacing at some point as well but its ok for afew months. If I can source those internal parts the hub will be as good as new. But also the rim is taking abit of a beating too, which I already knew.

Even though I thought I was pretty careful in not getting water inside the hub it still can. I will be even more careful in the future on this.

Rusting bearings with cradle

The chain and cogs where worn out so those got replaced. I was actually going to buy a chain and cogs when I went to pick BBB up anyways as I knew that needed doing.

Another problem is also the rear hinge which is actually the biggest concern as its needs replacing in the next month or so. Had that rear frame changed back in April 2013 under warranty as I found a crack in the rear triangle. From what I've read about that rear hinge should be changed every 2/3 yrs anyway. Been recommended that to increase the life of the rear hinge to use a solid suspension block so there isn't so much movement at that point when riding. I shall be looking into this.

Also one of the gear cables needs replacing which I will probably do myself. When I have some spare time I'll probably do all my cable.
Rear Hinge
I have to say I was abit shocked as I thought I was taking pretty good care of my boy but then again we have been doing a hell of alot of mileage & riding in all kinds of weather, so I shouldn't have been too shocked.

Sunday 15 February 2015

The unexpected LBC Gravesend ride

Yesterday I turned up for work but found out that I had the weekend off. I was early enough for me to be able to get home, changed and do the LBC Gravesend Loop ride. As I left work I was in 2 minds whether to do the ride as I have a "preparation" for a ride that I do. By the time I got home I had a few messages telling me I should go on the ride so I had a hearty porridge, got dressed, checked the weather and headed out from The HiVE at lightening speeds, probably breaking a few speed limits in the process.

I was so much in a rush that when I left Waterloo Station I was putting the power down as I didn't want to keep the others waiting. This meant I was "coming in HOT!". I had visions of a fighter pilot being waved off landing on a aircraft carrier as he was coming in to fast. I could hear the flight controller say, "Wave him off, wave him off, he's coming in to hot!"

The legend was on final approach.....

I made my approach it was way to late for me to be "waved off" so I did the only thing a legend could do, a long skid. I didn't calculate the traction of the surface or lack there of and as I whipped the back wheel around the front also started to slide. I had to compensate with putting my leg down and nearly ended up doing the splits but no one noticed and just thought it was all planned I let that one go & just smiled, glad that I didn't rap myself around the nearby tree & kept myself composed, as legends do ;)

Good to see my cycling buddies as always and I was looking forward to a decent ride as it felt that I haven't been on a long ride in ages.

Not to far from our start point, right next to the Transport for London Building we found a CycleHoop in the shape of a heart for Valentines Day.

We love our Bromptons
No matter what ChrisB knows when a camera is pointed in her direction and always got a lovely smile ready.

ChrisB knows
After a few miles we had our first puncture and ofcourse it had to be a rear wheel puncture. After a few minutes we had Anne's Hotlips all patched and ready to go.

Hotlips rear wheel all ready to go

Where we stopped to repair the puncture was uneven so I laid BBB down on his side to make sure he didn't fall over.

Not fallen over, just uneven ground

As we cycled though we came across more and more sights at have become very familiar to us, no matter how many times we cycle around the Thames we always enjoy the sights and sounds and its forever changing.

At the Cutty Sark & Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Heading along the industral sites where it was pretty muddy and a lakes in places.

Bright light, Bright light
Having made our way to the Thames Barrier we had a little  coffee break and re fuelling.

Taking in The Thames Barrier

ChrisB taking care of her baby

Seeing that I didn't fuel up as well as I should of this morning, I made sure I had something good and filling to keep me going.

Yummy toasted ham & cheese

There is a very short hill metal bridge next to what can only be described as a cement works a couple of miles down the road from The Thames Barrier. I've been up this little bridge a few times and the trick is to find the right gear and just "go for it" and I sure as hell did. Hell the speed we was going up it I thought we would take off like that famous moon scene from E.T: The Extra Terrestrial.

Tony & forever smiling ChrisB
While we was heading though some of the big parts of the Thames River Path that have heavy construction going on there was a few really muddy paths, in fact I would say the mud was actually cement & a small lakes. It was pretty hard going in places for me to be honest. For me its the muddy, sticky sand paths that really suck my energy badly. It was very tough going and by this point thought about taking the train back to London but would wait til I got atleast to Gravesend to see how I felt.

After about 20+ miles I was feeling the drain quiet badly.This was abit of a low point for me as I knew I was slowing everyone else down. I had put on too many layers as the day was a little warmer than I thought and also the forecast was rain but it seemed we was always ahead of the rain so with my waterproof jacket I was basically cooking. Tony D gave me encouragement and advise me to take off the jacket and waterproof helmet cover I had on so the heat could escape quicker. I do like my Nightvision Jacket but its only really good on serious biblical down pours & proper cold weather. Will be looking into getting something lighter with better airflow in future.

My cycling partner was waiting for me at the top of a short sharp hill on a cycle path, at this point I pretty much decided I was going to head back to London via train as I wasn't feeling to good. As always my buddy lifted my spirits & also mentioned that he would return with me to London by train if that is what I decided to do. I know for sure he could complete this ride with little effort and tried to tell him to carry on with the ride after we got to Gravesend but he wasn't having any of it.

Just after we came down the other side of the hill my partner suffered a rear wheel puncture, the second on this ride next to Ebsfleet Roundabout.

Second rear puncture
Didn't take my partner that long to fix and me, OrangeBrompton & Graham was on our way again and met up with the rest of the LBC gang a few miles out from Gravesend.

Finally made it to Gravesend, the rest of the LBC gang was heading to the ferry to cross over and cycle back to London on the opposite bank of the Thames. We said our goodbyes and me and Orange headed to the station.

As we was waiting to purchase our tickets a lady was very interested in BBB and asked where we had come from, I told her from the London Eye along the Thames. I don't think she could believe these small wheeled bicycles could do it but that's the thing about Bromptons, there is nothing they can't do.

Not the way I wanted to return to London

We didn't have to wait long before out train to Charing Cross Station arrived. I was disappointed with myself for not completing the loop but promised myself that I would do it when its organized again in the summer and take on much more water.

It seems when I took off the cover on my helmet the sun visor part broke and couldn't be put on again. Well it could have been alot worse.

Sunvisor eploded

We arrived at Charing Cross station and I noticed that the train did pass right next to the London Eye our starting point so pretty much completed the loop but not the way I had wanted. Just has we got out of the station it started to rain a tiny bit but not much. We cycled together the short distance past Trafalgar Square and part way down The Mall where we parted ways where I would catch the underground train back to the HiVE.

It was a good unexpected ride but very disappointed in myself for not completing the loop. I will make sure I do this ride again and complete it properly when it is organized again as I want to get photos while on the ferry.

Garmin Data: LBC Ride: Gravesend Loop

Til the next ride.....

Sunday 8 February 2015

LBC Route 21: Bromptons, a Kingfisher & Beer

The legend and I have been looking forward to riding with my LBC buddies for awhile now. We had missed the "LBC:Surrey Hills, because they where there" ride as the weather conditions where just a little to much for us (rain & snow on higher ground)

Today's weather promised to be for the most part dry, just overcast but not to much wind, so pretty decent winter cycling conditions. Fuelled up with a banana & porridge with big spoon full Nuttela we headed out the door for another cycling adventure.

So off we went the meeting point of the bottom of The London Eye on the Southbank. This time thankfully I arrived pretty much on time as I have a reputation to arrive just as the group are setting off. Hellos and hugs all over from new and old friends alike and also checking out each others Bromptons to see what the latest upgrades & tinkering we have been up to.

This would be the first ride I've been on since changing to a different model dynamo rear light so I was looking forward to seeing how it would perform there will be a review of both soon.

Once again this was David's ride and with his booming voice gave as a brief outline of where we would be going, keeping together as well as mentioning that being a sub 30 mile ride there would be no lunch stops, just toilet breaks for those in need.

Then we was off pretty much on schedule, as we weaved though the few tourist that was walking about the South Bank enjoying the Brompton Peloton. No matter how many times I go on a ride, the Brompton Peloton has to be one of the best views EVER. Every Brompton is the same but also a reflection of each rider's personality so are different at the same time. You just don't get that of thing with any other bike.

Flowing past the South Bank

Even in the cold we're all smiles
We cycled along the Thames for the most part and came across a few of our old haunts and we came across this now infamous brass salute of a cat over looking the Thames.

One cool cat

There is actually a whole family of brass salutes at this spot, man, woman and a couple of girls if I'm not mistaken.

Forever onwards we went along the Thames Path though alleyways, small docks & finally arriving at the Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark

At the Cutty Sark end of Greenwich Foot Tunnel

 Just a quick stop for some Peanut butter M&M's, I kid you not (I've been told only available in the US *boooo*) & off into the direction of Deptford Bridge.

Forever smiling Chris B (in pink) &  John M looking serious
When then arrived at Ladywell fields where me and BBB have never been before which had a really cool Corkscrew crossing, which I forgot to get a photo or video of. :( A few had to walk up the corkscrew crossing but with me being in the right gear and having a decent run up I managed to get up it in one go without stopping. I seriously need to find a better place to mount my VIRB Elite on the main frame of BBB to get more steady video.

Ladywell Fields

Along to our first little pitstop/toilet break at the Ten Thousand Hands or Ten Thousand Paws

We wasn't to far from another stop,  Compton Cycles on this ride and we was welcomed with hot drinks & flap jacks. Well we didn't just stop by we kinda invaded the shop. As ever all the staff was on hand giving great advise & service, some members even purchased a few items they had been promising themselves. I saw a pair of 2014 brake levers and a mini O bag being purchased.

The Legend outside Compton Cycles
Chris B was getting some great advise about her saddle height as she was getting a few aches and pains cause she couldn't get the saddle high perfect every time but was told after visiting the didn't have any more pains on the ride.

Chris Compton showed us a new helmet, Plixi Folding Helmet by Overade

Plixi ready to wear

Plixi fully folded
It's a bit tricky to fold/unfold if you never seen or done it before but I have to say I did like it and it could easily fit inside a racksack or even a mini O bag. It does feel quiet solid and would be a good summer helmet as there are alot of vents for good airflow. If I was to get one it would be ofcourse in black and yellow. I think it would be cool if the different sections could be in different colours to suit.

After everyone had consumed their hot drinks and a few energy giving flapjacks we had a LBC group photo for the Compton Cycles website / facebook page.

Right after we left Compton Cycles we headed towards the canals near by and one eagle eyed Bromptoneer spotted a King Fisher along the canal. I have to say we just about managed to get a photo before he/she shot off down the canal very close to the surface of the water.

Kingfisher watching the LBC ride by

While I was playing back marker we came across this delightful sign for a local toddler group .

How could we resist?
After we caught up with the rest of the group David informed us that we was approaching Crystal Palace and there was a big hill. So with that a few started to take off a layer or 2 so they wouldn't be too hot while going up hill cause the last thing you want to do is stop while going up a steep hill.
As always as the hill started to bite the group started to split up as everyone was focusing on their own pace for getting up hills.

Crystal Palace in the distance
Crystal Palace transmitter mask
I pretty quickly ended up being at the rear of the pack as they disappeared up the  hill. I just kept my head down, focused on my breathing and cadence. I did have to stop at one point near the top as the road got very tight and a car and small bus was trying to get past each other but I felt strong the whole way up and I felt if I hadn't needed to stop for them I could have got up in one go. I just saw Chris B just squeeze though the gap before it was impossible for anything to past till the car and bus sorted themselves out. The bus driver did thank me for waiting with a wave and smile as he passed me.

As we came to the Crystal Palace we came across a mini track where I saw a couple of radio controlled cars being raced. 

Mini race track
Now we was on our return trip to our starting point, the London Eye. Seemed alot closer and the few miles just zoomed by but with a few muddy patches which was a little hard going at times, but the next thing I know we was at the Eye.

Once again a damn good ride with my London Brompton Club and thanks go to David P for another great organized & lead ride, also thanks to everyone that joined us.

My LBC clan
Seeing that this was a "calorie negative ride" some of us took the chance of some calorie loading. Sleebus J suggested "Katzenjammers"ofcourse knowing Sleebus there would be good German Beer on tap and seriously yummy food.

Once we found a big enough table and had ordered our food there was a silence. The silence of everyone uploading their strava data and photographs.

Stimulating conversation >.<

Busy uploading to Strava

I have to say it took awhile order our food but when it did arrive was pretty good.

Even after I had ordered a beer that I had a quick taste of Chris B's beer it NEVER turned up, I'm STILL waiting for this beer, VERY SLOPPY service I have to say.

Still a damn good day out with my cycling buddies none the less.

Below is my cycle data. See you on the next ride....

Garmin Data: LBC Ride: Route 21 Loop

peace out & happy cycling....

Friday 6 February 2015

Winter blues & Close passes

Last weekend I aborted the LBC Surrey Hills, because they are there ride. As I left the HiVE it started to rain quiet heavy even though I was about 3 miles from my local station and had my waterproofs on I got pretty wet fast. It was also pretty cold and my mind wasn't in the right place for a BIG demanding ride with for me some major hills in Surrey. A few of the hardcore nutcases of the LBC still rode and major KUDOS to them for going and completing the ride. The ride will be done again when the weather is better.

Returning from my local station

I haven't been doing much cycling other than my commutes to work which has had its ups and downs. It snowed earlier in the week but wasn't much. The roads where salted pretty good and the snow hardly settled. By the afternoon it had all melted away.

Light dusting of snow

On one of my commutes this week I was EXTREMELY close passed by another cyclist, no warning, no nothing. I was a bit pissed at this, not like us cyclist have enough troubles on the roads as it is without one of our own almost taking us out. If your going to past another cyclist at least give a warning or a decent amount of space to pass as you would expect from any other vehicle overtaking.

Well tomorrow is another London Brompton Club ride, Route 21 going east from the London Eye. Should be a decent ride and much needed as the legend and I haven't been pushing ourselves as much as we should do. In the winter months it is hard to do decent amount of training with the weather and it getting dark so early. Bring on spring & summer we say, bring it on....