Sunday, March 28, 2010

Col du Skillman Circuit Race

Today saw a full programme of racing on a course dominated by the climb on Grandview Road.

Okay ... so I had intended to ride over and spectate for an hour or two, but impending showers and a cold wind meant I chickened out and drove over to the crest of Grandview and stood shivering for an hour or so watching some really interesting racing from one of the women's races. This particular race was dominated by three women who for the most part lapped several minutes ahead of the pack.

The Grandview climb is not high, but it is dispiriting. From the bottom you are confronted with a view straight along the road and up to the summit about a mile away. The gradient starts innocuously enough, but only gets steeper as the climb continues with no relief until you crest the hill... yuck!!! My most unfavourite climb in the area.

Most riders seemed to be from NE universities and colleges with a few Navy and Marine competitors for good measure.

It seemed to be a tough, cold day. Well done riders ... sorry I didn't stay ...

Bike route 425545 - powered by Bikemap 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Waving but Riding

Last weekend saw a big improvement in the weather from the previous one. So it was out on the road again, this time on a route pretty close to the one below. After a break at Peacock's Country Store I came off the Wertsville Road and climbed up to Rileyville and back along Ridge Road to Lindberg.
Bike route 417272 - powered by Bikemap 
No improvement in the roads though, with added branches and storm debris adding to the pothole hazard. In the UK potholes are front page news after its savage winter. Here most of them will still be around in the fall ... The occasional bridge was also still closed to traffic after the floods, but it was easy to thread a bicycle through the barriers and bulldozers.

It was nice to see so many riders out and about, although I don't know if some of them were just as pleased to see me. Hey guys!!! You only have to nod back. You don't have to cross the road and shake my hand ... Maybe it's because I'm not riding the latest rail from The Skunk Works or something, I dunno ...

This weekend I'm intending to work in a ride around looking in at the Princeton University Cycling team event based around Montgomery - The Col du Skillman. There should be some nice climbs around the course. See more here ... The course is here ...

* Not Waving but Drowning - Stevie Smith 1957

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Misplaced Optimism ...

So this weekend saw 6" of rain in one day and maybe a couple of inches of water in our cellar when the electricity failed - for 24+ hours - before I could lash up the generator to the sump pump.

It would be nice if this weekend could make up for it and I could get back out on the bike.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Save BBC Radio 6 Music

This is a radio station with no demographic. That is, unless that demographic includes everyone who loves music.

For some reason the BBC believes that all tastes, other than classical music (Radio 3 is untouchable regardless of cost per listener), are covered by Radios 1 & 2. Hmm, teenie-boppers and carpet slippers.

No, BBC, keep Radio 6 Music!!!

Listen here.

And for another station under threat, the Asian Network, listen here.

Lots more about BBC Radio 6 Music here.

BTW: Simon Mayo ... what a waste ... get back to 5Live you silly man...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

So Spring Really Has Sprung

Well, the nice weather is here, so there's really no excuse.

What better than a season opener than a nice ride to Lambertville, NJ, on the Delaware? Only 40 miles there and back, but hilly miles, so they really count.

Bike route 316479 - powered by Bikemap 

Everything worked well and smoothly and suitable clothing kept me warm, but not too toasty.

As I crossed Route 31 I was surprised to find an old-school English Woodrup pull up along side. It was piloted by John, originally from Leeds, UK, who was working his way to Frenchtown, NJ, to have lunch with his missus. Small world, huh?

We rode on to Lambertville, then John turned north for Frenchtown, and I headed for the coffee shop.

It was a great ride for a season opener; clear blue skies, beautiful sunshine, plenty of other riders on the road. Okay, my legs felt it a bit as I approached home ... but what did I expect after 3 months without a serious outing?

NB: there was still ice across the road just after Mountain Road crosses Linvale Road. It was gone by the time I returned. More seriously, Zion Road, between Long Hill Road and Lindbergh Road is in a very poor state after the winter with potholes across the road in some places, eroded surface and raised ridges.

Hollow Road also has deteriorated since last year. Some stretches are white-knuckle inducing at 30-35mph on the descent, so ride carefully.

Friday, March 05, 2010

It's called a bicycle, m'Lud ...

This is an interesting blog from a cycling, commuting, 4th cat vet lawyer in the UK; The Cycling Lawyer.

Each month, Martin Porter writes a digest of court cases and, unfortunately, inquests, associated with cycling and cyclists.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bike Shop Lament

It's that time of year ...

The first nice cycling weekend is looming at last. It's Thursday and the first batch of customers who need their bike serviced, repaired and upgraded will be in today with their bike which needs to be done by tomorrow because they have a Double Century or are starting their ride across America this weekend and besides they're the bike shop owner's best friend, etc., etc.. You would be amazed how many best friends bike shop owners and mechanics have at this time of year ...

Not as rare an occurrence as you might think ... really.

Next week, bike shops move into a new phase; the "I Was Just Riding Along" phenomenon.

"I was just riding along when the rear derailleur wound itself into the back wheel with the power of an express train hitting the buffers, and for some reason the bike also spontaneously folded in half. I didn't do a thing. Is it still in warranty?"

You can see the result of a typical incident in the picture above.

Seriously, your local bike shop will be delighted to check over and service your bike, advise on issues and possible upgrades. All they need is a little time. Go prepared to be without your rail for a week, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised when it wants to come home early.

Disclosure : I work in a local bike shop.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Plymouth Sound Webcam

This is a view from the BBC Spotlight Southwest cam overlooking Plymouth Sound from Staddon Heights. The image should refresh every 5 minutes.

© BBC : 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Shiny Discs

Part of the pleasure of 12" BVDs - Black Vinyl Discs - is the scale of the artwork. CDs never really could compete in this aspect of the pleasure of owning a minor work of art in a gatefold. I mean, have you ever tried to read some of the tiny print in a CD booklet?

I suspect that single attribute is a significant element in the resurgence of the LP as a music source.

However, now even the CD is becoming obsolete, hobbled by being tied to a bitrate which seemed adequate 30 years ago but is showing its age.

Part of the advantage of moving over to a network music server and the falling cost of HDD space is that music file sizes can now be huge, much larger and of much greater definition than a CD.

More and more, this type of music delivery is being made available online although too many virtual music stores will only deliver .mp3 instead of uncompressed .wav and .flac files.

But some stores are starting to make these truly hifi files available. It also means it's possible to find music which rarely, or never, finds its way over the pond in either direction

The only thing is, I just wish they'd include the album art with the download. And it would be nice to have some sort of saving over the hard copy/artifact version. Oh well ...

Feedback Sports : Mechanics Stand

For me, part of the pleasure of cycling is the tinkering and maintenance of my bikes.

Nothing helps more than having the bike held securely and at a comfortable height so that adjustments are more easily carried out.

At home I use a Feedback Sports Mechanics stand. The image of the stand shows it in its previous incarnation as an Ultimate Sports stand. I'm not certain what happened, but other than the name everything seems the same.

Anyway, this stand is very sturdy, very portable and holds bicycles very firmly.

There are a couple of other models with more sophisticated quick adjustment clamps and if I were to buy one now I'd probably go for that. But the old-school wind-up clamp is perfectly okay for occasional use and saves a few dollars.

The tool tray is a useful accessory, keeping tools and service items in a convenient place on the stand