Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marmotte looms again.

Three of us have entered La Marmotte again this year. Purgatory really but has to be done !!

Incredibly all places were taken up within 48hrs of them becoming available .

Well done for Duncan and John for all their planning on this one and for keeping an eye open to make sure we all gained places.

This year we will take our own bikes instead of hiring. I am toying with the idea of doing it on a Dahon Speed Pro TT or Dahon MU EX just to see what it it will be like ...........

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Report on Scottish Highlands coast to coast ! Day 1

O.K I am back and what a trip ! I did manage to cycle across the Highlands from coast to coast in 4 days but it has turned into a Chris route not the official one !

I will tell you what happened ! The train ride up to Inverness was long but fine and according to plan. I had booked a room in the Inverness Youth Hostel and rolled up there about 8p.m ish.
It is interesting because Youth Hostels are rapidly losing their appeal for me. They are becoming quite expensive for what they offer these days and I feel that is a real shame. In Inverness for comparison you will pay about £3 more for a really comfortable B & B.

Cycling Day 1
Set off at 9a.m from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh on the train with an arrival time of 11.28 a.m. Lovely trip and as you get further west you realize how remote and desolate the Highlands are. Beautiful ! Of course it was raining but I was expecting that. Anyway set off from Kyle of Lochalsh at 11.45 a.m. It immediately started to pour with rain which meant adding overshoes ,hat and outer gloves as it was cold.So I was aiming for Ratagan further to the south west and the official start of the ride. 17 miles later and having passed the tourist castle landmark of Eilean Donnan I reached Ratagan.

The first real climb starts here as you cycle up to 390 metres to a view point from where you can see the fantastic 5 sisters ( well known mountains ) if you look west south west.From here it is downhill along the old military road towards Glenelg. Sounds nice but at between 20-30 mph I was met with the first hailstorm of the day and it was bitterly cold but even worse the feeling of many needles being poked in your face as the hailstones hit.

Glenelg in this weather was not pretty but I reckon it would be magical on a lovely summers day with views over Glenelg Bay to the Isle of Skye.Temperature at this point was running consistently at about 32 degrees F which is 0 degrees C so pretty cold .

The route continues past Eilanreach and Sandaig towards Arnisdale. This was the most brutal weather with hail and snowstorms and streams of hail,water and snow cascading down the roads---- it looked rather like melting ice cream really.It was cold even though the body is creating a great deal of heat with the cycling up and down hills.

O.K Arnisdale was the exciting village as here the route heads pretty much west along Glen Arnisdale and the first mountain pass over to Kinloch Hourn. I knocked on someones door to confirm the route and he told me it was 9 miles to Kinloch Hourn and a further 9 miles to Tomdoun where I knew there was a hotel and I was hoping to stay.But -----he said---- you will have to wade a river. No probs I thought as I had already forded a couple of small streams.
Anyway the offroad track seemed fine until it ramped up into a very steep mountain walk really hard to push a bike with two panniers and impossible to ride. This kept on going until eventually you reach the top and by this time you are in the mountains big time with conditions so wet and boggy it is not really possible to cycle consistently for more than a few yards at a time.Soldiering on and looking at the watch 3 hours time will see real darkness ----- (which if you are outside I always reckon is a good hour after darkness in shops and offices.

So pushing on past two tarns I hear a familiar sound ----- a sharp crack as the rear wheel axle snapped and every revolution of the crank sent the tyre against the frame of the bike.I pushed on gently but realized the very soft alloy of this frame would soon be rubbed away by the harshness of a fully pumped up 2.1 tyre.

At this point I saw the pylons which would signal the river crossing and could clearly see the track enticingly on the other side of the river.The only problem was that this was not a ford. It was ( because of the large amounts of rain ) a full on river. I had said to myself before hand not to dither here because I had to get across. So I didn't ------ straight in trying to use the bike as a prop which worked really well until the middle and then ( thigh deep at this point ) the bike was on it's side trying to pull me down stream with it ! Somehow once beyond the centre of the river things calmed down and managed to get out o.k.

Next thing was realizing there was distance still to go with the broken axle----so bike upside down and replaced the axle ( Yes had thought of bringing a spare one ! ). This was not easy with very limited tools and in the cold but soon on the way again. Not pleasant actually as getting dark and no end to this bleak mountain pass.Needed to force myself to eat and drink liquid here as I knew energy was down. Eating and drinking was what I really did not want to do right now. I also know that these sort of reactions are the first signs of potential onset of hypothermia------ so got the food and drink in !

Anyway reached the shooting lodge at Kinloch Hourn at 6.45 p.m in darkness.I knocked on door to enquire if I could stay anywhere but was rather cooly told the only place to stay was Tomdoun 17 miles away------ and, the guy said ,the first 3 miles are uphill.

O.K I didn't fancy this next stage 17 miles in complete darkness in the remote Highlands --- but if you have to do it you have to do it !! Downed a packet of fruit pastilles and felt reenergized after a few minutes. After the uphill slog the run to Tomdoun was almost out of body. Second wind kicked in and at one point I came across 5 Highland cattle in the road, then a stag with antlers and finally a deer who scuttled out of the undergrowth and ran in front of me for half a mile or so. I felt like a skilled herdsman !!

Arrive at Tomdoun hotel at 8.45 p.m and that was welcome !!! They even produced a lovely casserole for me which I washed down with a couple of pints of McEwans.It felt great to be the only customer in this lovely hotel.

So that was day one !!!

Scottish Highlands . Day 2.

Pics show bike in garage at Fort Augustus

Town is Fort Augustus with Caledonian Canal.

Two other shots are on the way

to Inverness.

Great breakfast at Tomdoun Hotel. Nice table for one don't you all think ! Set off about 9a.m with aim of heading to Fort Augustus and then over the Corrieyairack pass towards Glenfeshie. O.K Chris in your dreams !! At this point I really thought this possible ! I think myself as physically invincible you see !!!

Tough ride through wet forest tracks to Invergarry. From here fantastic flat run up the Caledonian Canal to Fort Augustus. All going well. weather at this point closing in again with heavy rain. Right lets get up the Corrieyairack pass which at 2550 ft is the highest point on the ride.Started heading up and at a steep section familiar rub as tyre hits frame. This time axle no. 2 has bent under pressure.

Rethink time. Quick look at map says only thing is cycle back along Loch Ness to Inverness to pick up new axle and move from there. But first down to local garage in Fort Augustus to hopefully scrounge some proper tools and cobble the axle somehow. The guys in the garage were great and lent me the tools I needed to do as best I could with axle n0.2.When I said I would try the pass again they told me there was 2foot of snow up there and that if I tried going up there at this time of day they would physically not let me do it. O.K point taken. back to Inverness but not before a really bad lunch of coke, cake ,crisps , biscuits and coffee. Don't copy that !

The climb up on the B road out of Fort Augustus is long and quite steep reaching to about 300 metres. Then a great run (34miles or so back to Inverness ) This is when I found out how much better value the B&B's were . So had a really comfy night even though the following morning the lady asked me which bed I had slept in. I replied ---the one by the window--- to which she retorted---I had not made that one up-there were no sheets on the bed !! I was comfy anyway.

Scottish Highlands . Day 3.

Pics show me at Carrbridge
arriving at Kingussie
and stopping to look at Dunkeld Cathedral.

Today was unplanned really. I had not expected to be back in Inverness. But I was and therefore had to make the most of it. I then realized I could still achieve my goal of cycling coast to coast across the Highlands. There is a Sustrans route 7 which appeared to follow the course of the A9 south towards Perth. I decided to take this initially as far as Carrbridge . From there I could decide whether to carry on to Tomintoul and join up with the original route or continue on route 7.

The ride along route 7 was an eye opener because the tracks or old roads creating the sustrans route were very much traffic free and I would really recommend it to you as a lovely ride. It was very hilly but although cold the rain held off !

At Carrbridge it was around 0 degrees C and I decided to head down to Aviemore and then onto Kingussie. I had never been to Aviemore before and now was a good opportunity to have a quick look. The mountains surrounding the town were covered in snow already and it looked truly wintery there !

I pushed on to Kingussie in the rain by this time. Rain turned to snow as I arrived in Kingussie and was told it was approx 45 miles to Pitlochry.

At least I thought this would be a good 100 plus mile ride to make up for the fact I was not climbing up the mountains but cruising through them.As I passed through Blair Atholl and Blair Castle it was getting dark and after one more final climb ---the Killiecrankie pass ---I was in Pitlochry where I found yet another lovely B & B.

It had actually been quite a hard day. The Garmin had recorded over 100 miles --I would estimate 107 as I kept forgetting to turn it on, 6286' height gain and 6192 calories burnt on the ride. Average temp. had been 36.1 F just above freezing !!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scottish Highlands . Day 4.

Pic 1 show typical Sustrans signage on their paths (really excellent).

Pics 2 and 6 are of the Staion Hotel,Carnoustie. The only way I could wheel the bike was with tyre off-it was so buckled---as you can imagine from looking at pic 3.

Pic 4 is of the Discovery at Dundee and pic 5 is of me outside Dunkeld Cathedral !

Waking up after yesterday's ride I felt pretty shattered to be honest. I had another fantastic breakfast at the B&B and was soon on my way. I had no idea to be honest where I would end up at the end of the day.Montrose would be ideal as that is where I was supposed to finish if I had taken the official route. However I figured anywhere on the east coast would be a good result as it would still be a Highlands coast to coast ride!

So I was heading for Perth still on Sustrans route 7. the ride was very pleasant ---cold but clear weather and gently rolling landscape, becoming really pretty as you join and cycle along paths by the river Tay.

The riverside path leads you into Dunkeld and initially you are confronted by the huge Dunkeld Cathedral which really stands out because of it's size and it also has original beautiful lead guttering and downpipes!!

From Dunkeld to Perth was more of the same really ---undulating pleasant landscape but just clocking up the miles to be honest. Approaching Perth the route joins the river Tay again and runs into the pretty city through beautiful parkland with many office workers all out for lunchtime strolls .Time for lunch here and I found a lovely but simple little cafe where I filled up like a dustbin again ---as one does on these rides !

Next stop or next port of call -Dundee. Very steep climb east out of Perth but really enjoyed that. For a few miles up and down hilly terrain and raining now. Hard work and cold now but great really.Suprisingly a few miles west of Dundee the landscape changes completely and there is mile after mile of really flat land . Obviously great farming terrain and the Garmin was for once showing a straight flat line for elevation !

As you approach Dundee the cycle path takes you round the south side along the Firth of Tay and past Scott's famous ship The Discovery and then past the oldest floating warship left in our country- The Unicorn. Huge amount of waterfront development taking place around Dundee--enjoyed seeing it although somewhat briefly !!

Hammering along now towards Broughton Ferry --really pretty old Victorian seaside town just on the eastern outskirts of Dundee. At this point one could say the east coast had been reached --hooray-- but I was just getting my second wind as late afternoon approached and as I started to head north east I was starting to feel the wind on my back. So let's push on.

The eastern coast of Scotland at this point is beautiful. Mile after mile of sandy beach and sand dunes. Really lovely with a special atmosphere.Starting to get dark as I sailed past Carnoustie Golf Course but I had lights ---lets keep going.

Suddenly as I approached a gate to cross the railway line and luckily moving slowly ---Bang---. O.K what now-- wheel is out of true so broken spoke I thought. No probs I had spokes so 15 mins later I would be on my way again. However as I turned the bike over to check which spokes had gone I discovered the wheel had exploded (the rim had split) so game over on this trip !!

Thankfully the Station Inn at Carnoustie was close so I walked the bike there- struck a good deal for B&B and had a lovely meal and relaxing evening before catching the train back to Cambridge the next morning.

Amusingly enough---if I had been continuing it would have been fine as the hotel chef had seen a cheap mountain bike in a skip near his home and would have been willing to bring it in for me---so I would have been on the move again with no probs.Today's distance 70 miles.

Great fun travelling like this !!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Next trip looming !

Life is too short so the next trip looms ahead of me.

This time Coast to Coast across the Scottish Highlands.Trip will go from Kyle of Lochalsh near the Isle of Skye to Montrose on the East coast.

This is an off road trip predominantly and is often voted as one of the best rides in the U.K. So very hard to resist particularly at this time of year when there will be no midges and even more importantly next to no people !!

Distance is approx 250 miles and I am giving myself 4 days to complete it. That seems like a long time when you think that staying on the road is an easy 2 day journey. However there are some serious off road climbs such as the Corriey-Airack Pass and Mt . Keen to cope with so 4 days will be pushing it ---I imagine !!Maybe it will be no problem ---I will let you know !

So anyway from Cambridge train journey up to Inverness arriving 8 p.m.Next morning train journey from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh.

Should set off towards Ratagan about 11.30 a.m on Monday morning and then we are off.

Promise I will give a report on this ride once back !!

By the way I am going on a retro bike. It is a Cannondale from the late 1980's. It is quick and comfortable for me and light . It is great to pull a bike from mothballing into action !!
No suspension and aluminium forks so I will be well pounded at the end !!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog on the coast to coast ride !

At last trying to settle down and write the blog on the Coast to Coast ride we did with the VSF bikes last week. Wow it already seems like a lifetime away !

As I explained we were cycling east to west from Robin Hoods Bay to St Bees. Slightly unusual yes as it was into the prevailing westerley winds. But it meant finishing on some superb climbs in the Lake District.

I was really keen to try the T900 with 14 speed Rohloff gearbox and see how it would perform in hilly areas with full pack. I was not disappointed !! Infact can't wait for the next trip.Throughout the journey the bike performed perfectly. The twist grip gearchange is positive and never once did I miss a gear-----gear adjustments are really a thing of the past with the Rohloff.On undulating terrain as for example between Osmotherley on the western edge of the North York Moors to Kirkby Stephen in the Dales you keep the pace up beautifully with constant positive shifting.Hills do not defeat the Rohloff as it coped admirably with 33% gradients in the North York Moors.However these gradients mean that with full gear in panniers you need to be standing and over the bars to prevent the front wheel continually lifting.

I was really impressed by the handling of the bike on fast descents .From the top of the Hardknott pass down into Eskdale is a long and steep ( and really enjoyable ) descent. I was expecting some front end wobble at speed but the bike was steadfast and solid all the way down. Braking with the hydraulic Magura HS 33 system was sure and solid.

Some people have commented on the fact that lighting systems add unecessary weight to the bike but on a trip like this it really is great to have the Son front hub dynamo putting out tremendous lighting through the 60 lux front B&M Lumotec and fantastically bright rear led (both with standlights ). The front led has a senso mode so that when dark enough the light comes on automatically. Brilliant.Especially when cycling back from the pub in an area one is not familiar with !

I will tell you what is also great about the VSF bikes ----- a really solid comprehensive stand which is incredibly useful when you have heavy panniers on the rear rack.

The fully enclosed chainguard is also really great as you don't need to worry about oil on the trousers at all !

The tubus cargo as you would expect from the world's best was faultless as I knew it would be !

I always say the T900 is a top touring bike mainly for road use and I stand by this ,but it also performed brilliantly on rougher tracks such as the Cinder Track from Scarborough to Robin Hoods Bay and on some wetter and stickier terrain by Ravenscale.

So much for the bike. Now I am sure you would all like a quick resume of the journey with it. !!

I will carry on hopefully tomorrow with that -------

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coast to Coast.

O.K. Having sold quite a few rohloffs this year time to try for myself. We will be cycling coast to coast next week on two VSF Fahrrads. (The Majorca theme continues as I will be joined from a friend from Palma ). The models will be T900 with Rohloff and T400 derailleur geared .

Route will be East to West as I am in love with the Lake District more than ever and am willing to sacrifice potential wind in the face for the thought of Kirkstone Pass and then the Wrynose and Hardknott Pass towards the end of the ride.I was on the Kirkstone 3 weeks ago but in a vehicle --- as my eldest daughter had asked if we could do High Street. (She liked the idea as we all did that they used to race horses up there in years gone by).

I have been using the Rohloff a lot lately and although I love riding high end racing bikes I am also really enjoying the Rohloff--- You can keep a great pace up --- it rolls ( actually no pun intended !! )really easily and you know that to be honest you can get up any hill. It is also a work of art which is not just being looked at but is also helping to keep you fitter.

You see having come back from France and seeing guys in their 60's- late 70's looking amazingly strong and fit and performing as they look ,there really can be no better aim in life than to work your body hard as it naturally should be !!

I will let you know how we get on and more importantly how the bikes perform !!

The T900 will be for sale at a good price after the ride . If you are interested let me know (58cms)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just back from viewing the 2012 VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur range.

We have just come back from viewing the new VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur range for 2012.It was a great trip not least because we combined it as a very much toned down stag do ( Dad me and James).It is rare we all 3 get away together on trips so as James is getting married next weekend it seemed a perfect time.

We arrived in Oldenburg just as people were going to work, about 9a.m ,ready for a full day of looking at and trying out the new range.

This year there are quite a few changes but the quality remains the same. To me the bikes are even more beautiful !

Time allowing I will let you know - model by model - about any revisions for the coming year and also tell you about the new models which are being added !

Monday, July 4, 2011

La Marmotte (Photos to come )

Hello.We are just back from completing La marmotte which as you all know is the legendary sportif in the French Alps. Here is a quick resumee of what happened !!

This trip had been planned several months ago by Duncan and we had trained pretty hard from the winter on with this objective in mind. Our training was not terribly specific though because there is hardly a hill around Cambridge let alone a mountain ! However Duncan pushed me very hard around the undulating terrain towards Haverhill and Saffron Walden and as the time approached we had clocked up some trips close to the mileage of La marmotte (108miles ) if not meters of climbing (plus 5000m ).

Anyway a week before we were due to leave real bad luck struck as Duncan came off his bike and badly broke his collar bone. Stalwart and all round good chap he is as he insisted on coming out as support for me as I attempted the ride.Thankyou again Duncan as it was much appreciated !

We flew from Stansted to Lyon and hired a car then driving to Alpe D' Huez where we had booked an apartment for 3 nights.We arrived after an easy journey and booked in and collected the bike for the ride.

5.30 the following morning Duncan managed to persuade me to eat porridge and raisins before starting the 10 mile descent to the 7 a.m start at Bourg D'Oisans.Wow that was really cold ! You do need a wind cheater to do that and ideally full finger gloves.The light jacket worked well for me as I was able later to tuck it away in a pocket of my cycling shirt.

I was due to leave around 7 a.m with a number in the early thousands.Soon we were off and as I expected there were people flying past as if it was as a sprint.I refused to be drawn as I had no idea what to expect later in the day !! You cruise for a few miles on a lovely straight flat road and then turn right on the D526 heading up towards the Col du Glandon. This is a pretty , pretty route and early in the morning so no real heat. It is a long steady climb but one is still thinking this is fine, what is all the fuss about, as you look down on emerald coloured alpine lakes and cruise through little alpine villages with people already sitting out enjoying their coffee.

Anyway soon the Glandon arrives and at 1924 metres is the first of the four mountains under the belt.There is also a feed station here and it was really well stocked too.There are bananas cut in half, buckets full of juicy orange segments, cakes , sweets, water (of course), ham rolls !!From the top of the Glandon the route heads N N east on the D927. There were at least two ambulances stationed at the top of this descent but after the initial steep hairpins the descent is just fantastic.Fast and sweeping and very long.Magic in fact and before long you find yourself in St- etienne - de - Cuinnes.

From here the route heads south east along a reasonably busy main road ( D1006 ) and you start to realize what you are up against as it is getting hotter and this road is hard work to be honest.You also need to be sensible and when you find yourself with a group behind you and no one in front make changes pretty quick and get right behind someone else ! Anyway as you enter St Jeanne de Maurienne and head south west to start the 7-8 mile climb up to the top of the Col du Telegraphe (peak no. two ) you are really in a ride.That is if you are a normal person as I am ! I found the Telegraphe really hard work. This is a personal thing on my particular ride. You may find it fine as I did the Glandon. The sun was getting stronger and although not a really long climb it is really quite steep and I would say pretty relentless.

The top of the Telegraphe arrives at last and this is where I missed Duncan because he would not have let me stop and we would have rolled over the top and recovered on the descent to the beautiful village of Valloire. But riding on my own I had a fairly long rest here- I have to admit to feeling quite tired !!

Managed to push on again but don't think the descent is as giving and long as that from the Glandon.You will find some relief with a shortish descent but then a lovely easy ride through the fantastic summer and winter sports haven which is Valloire and then on to the very gentle start of the ride towards the Galibier. As you come out of Valloire you can replenish your supplies at feed station number two.

Do not be fooled by the early gentle ascent towards the Galibier but do admire the magnificent mountain scenery which opens out before you. The scale is truly vast and the opportunity for fantastic alpine walking here is mouth watering. ( I hope to be back for that ! ).The ascent of the Galibier is a long one (I think around 10-12 miles) and at Plan Lachat the incline really ramps up and stays ramped up until the summit. It is a tough ascent and this is where I first saw people walking with their bikes or taking well deserved rests !!Luckily I managed to make it without a rest but I was not quick.I had decided at this stage that completing the ride was the most important thing this year and I still had no idea what still lay ahead, but of course the thought of the Alpe D ' Huez is ever present !! Eventually the summit of the Col du Galibier is reached and what fantastic views.The Galibier truly deserves it's rating as" well worth the journey "(by whatever means ).All sorts are up there not only cyclists but my prize for the day must go to the petite French woman we had seen at the Telegraphe for the way she managed the Galibier hairpins on her bright red Ducati 749 !!

One of the best parts of the ride now comes as it is pretty much all down hill now for about 30 miles and the base of the Alpe D ' Huez. The hairpins on the way down are mouth watering I absolutely loved the ride. The climbs are worth it for the awesome fast descents !! On the way back to Bourg you travel through many tunnels but they are fine .I was apprehensive before hand thinking they may be like the one on the way down from Cape Formentor in Majorca,but they are no problem as well lit and wide. Do not forget to look up to your left as you get closer to the turn for Les Deux Alpes as there are some fantastic glaciers up there.

Soon you are approaching Bourg D'oisans and the final feed station before the last ascent.I thought I would have another rest here which made Duncan chuckle afterwards.I had an idea what lay ahead as we had driven up the 21 hairpins of the Alpe D' Huez the previous day and after about 15 mins I made myself mount the bike once again !! As you come out of Bourg you turn left and then you see it----- the road ramps up and then stays ramped up for the next 10 miles and 21 hairpins. This really is a hard ascent and I have no idea how these athletes manage it in under 40 mins. Quite sometime later I reached the top having staved off a tennis ball cramp in the left hamstring.

Job eventually done .However Duncan had been waiting at the finish line for me coming in at around 8hrs 30 mins onwards. Lets just say he was waiting a bit longer than that ( enough time to get sunburnt ) !Any way although not gold I did manage silver which I was very pleased with !

If Duncan decides to drag me out there next year I know it will be much more painful as I won't be allowed to stop !!

Words of advice if I may.

You can do this ride if you are reasonably fit.It is in no way beyond the abilities of most people who excercise.Admittedly to achieve a gold medal time or better is really hard work- no doubt-but as a fantastic ride at your own pace give it a go !! You will really enjoy it and have lasting memories of a brilliant day out.

On your first ride you can not know what to expect and nor can you truly comprehend the scale of the ride.Therefore I think that unless you are super strong and fit (and I know many of you are)aim to complete it the first year and go for a time the second year !!

But do it as you will never regret it.Good luck.

As for Duncan and myself the Dolomites are beckoning and so is 200 miles in the day and so is the highest Alpine road and so is the ------------- !!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fahrrad Manufaktur T Belt with Alfine 11 speed arrives

At long last the first Fahrrad Manufaktur T Belt with the new 11 speed shimano Alfine gearbox has arrived.This particular bike will only be here a day as the very patient customer who ordered it in September will be picking it up today.

Well anyway I have ridden it and it is a joy.As usual the belt drive is silent and provides great acceleration.The gearbox is crisp and easy to use with the Alfine shifter and the range of gears fantastic for most cycling.I feel the lower gears on the Rohloff are significantly lower than on the 11 speed but until percentages are compared can not say by how much.

As usual the fantastic Magura hydraulic brakes are beautifully efficient.

This year the bike comes with a neat and purposeful alloy chainguard which is a good upgrade from last years model.

Vertical dropouts as with the Rohloff models mean that belt tension is taken up by the eccentric bottom bracket.There is no tension slippage so common on hub geared bikes with horizontal dropouts.

Although this bike is only in the shop briefly I should have another by next Friday for people coming to inspect !

I now have the next T Belt in the shop.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Pics of Nick and Duncan powering through Alcudia at the end of our trip to Arta which had been very windy again !

On the way up to the Lluc Monastery

Pics of us on the way up from Porto Pollenca to the Lluc Monastery.Fairly uncomfortable climb as an early morning warm up !Nick is seen parking at our restplace at the Monastery.

Start of descent to Sa Calobra

Duncan at the start of descent to Sa Calobra.

Duncan and yours truly gathering at Sa Calobra ready to climb back up again.Actually, although gradients reach 11% at times it really is a lovely ride.

Duncan starts descending the Sa Calobra hairpins

Duncan starts descending the upper hairpin sections of Sa Calobra Majorca.This day had seen us cycle from Porto Pollenca to the Lluc Monastery down to Sa Calobra and back to Porto Pollenca again. In total 100kms. Lovely ride but set off early if a hot day is looming.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rides this year so far if you want to join us

Last week in March a few of us are travelling to Majorca.We will be hiring a car and then up to
Porto Pollenca. We will hire bikes there and be based there.We will then have 5 days of cycling.Hopefully the climb up to Cape Formentor will be one of the rides.

As an update the training has been punishing so far ! But worth it one hopes.One of the advantages of running your own business is that you can select to take time out during the week to do things you enjoy and as one gets older free time becomes much more valuable than making money !! Anyway whilst riding on Sundays it is amazing how many people are out riding which is great. Whist doing repeat rides up Barrington Hill it is unusual to be the only one on it every time one goes up.

We will post some pics on our return from Majorca and provide details of our more interesting rides.

Later in the year we are tackling the Alpe d'Huez.This is an organized race and tickets are likely now to cost £100 as everything is now sold.This is first weekend in July.Getting there and accommodation will be cheap.

Once again let me know but we need to book flights pretty soon.

We are booked in for La Marmotte which includes the Alped'Huez as the final climb of the day !!
That means a lot of cycling between now and July for me personally to stand a chance of achieving this !!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rohloff's arrive.

Next week will see the arrival of the first of a batch of Rohloff equipped bicycles.It will be the Fahrrad Manufaktur T900 ( which has been described as a classic of everyday design by a reporter in the Guardian ) and is certainly a lovely bike.

For those people who are intrigued by the Rohloff 14 speed gearbox and find it hard to locate them locally,you are more than welcome to come and take a look and a ride.

I have ridden the bike now and it really is great !!Very ,very sporty and superb quality.Almost all German with the German made frame,Tubus rack ,Magura hydraulic HS 33 brakes the Rohloff 14 speed gearbox ,Son and Busch and Muller lighting,SKS mudguards.And on and on.

Usually one is looking at a bike and trying to find something on it which is not made in the far east.On this bike one does the opposite !!Even the stand is Swiss.FANTASTIC.

It is great to stock and sell proper bikes.Yes they cost me money to stock but it is worth it !
These bikes are proving popular.Three T900's left the shop in December and I feel it to be a privelege to be someone now regularly selling Rohloff equipped bikes.
There is absolutely no need to queue at St John Street Cycles for a "Thorn" !!
As an update the Rohloff equipped bikes from VSF are proving to be one of the most popular bikes I am selling --especially in the T400 and T900 models. 8 Rohloff equipped bikes have been sold to very lucky customers since November and more are on order now.

More Fahrrads arrive.

I have received the Fahrrad T50's which I ordered at Friedrichshafen today.The models I have opted for are the 8 speed nexus with fully enclosed chainguards.The frames are aluminium and the tyres are wide.The reason for this is that aluminium frames do generally have a harsher ride so even with cr-mo steel forks the wider tyres give more comfort.However if kept up to pressure there is no compromise on speed !!

They are gerat value bikes so come and have a ride.

This first batch are all sold.This week I will be receiving the second batch of T 50's.Come and take a look.They are tremendous value.

Rik and Paula cycling back to Australia on VSF T400's

Last year I had been communicating with an Australian couple regarding the VSf Fahrrad bikes and in particular the T400 with Rohloff gears.Things went a bit quiet and then last weekend they appeared in the shop.I am presently waiting for their 2 T400 Rohloff's to arrive from Germany.I will then be able to kit them out with all they will need to CYCLE back to AUSTRALIA.Fantastic and I am very envious.Anyway you can follow their blog if you go to -

Once the bikes arrive I will post some pics and let you know what equipment they decide to take with them !

Friday, February 11, 2011

Amit takes another of the VSF T200's.

TheVSF Fahrrad T200 is proving to be a very popular model this year.People seem to like the fully enclosed chainguard and the premium 8 speed gearbox.These upgrades beyond the T100 mean it is very much the the gents equivalent of the ladies S300.They make a lovely pair of bikes.In fact this is exactly the option that Amit (pictured receiving his bike )and his wife have taken.
I have added the extra pics to show the gearbox and chainguard.The red band around the gearbox enables you to distinguish it from the standard 8 speed.
By the way the most important differences between the two gearboxes are firstly that in the premium version the plastic moving parts are replaced with metal and secondly the seals are much more comprehensive.Something to be aware of given the evil winter weather we now seem to experience in this country.
Having said that I have been impressed with the reliability of the basic 8 speed box.I have sold hundreds now and never had to replace one.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fahrrads travel abroad

I receive many emails from people living abroad-particularly in Canada and Australia- wanting to buy and know more about the VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur bicycles.The bikes have an amazing following worldwide--- in this instance particularly the T400 travel bike usually in XT 27 speed or Rohloff version.Two XT versions are leaving the shop tomorrow bound for Edmonton Alberta.It amazes me that in 2 days time they will be on the other side of the world !

As an update the bikes arrived unscathed within 2 days.Actually an amazing service from DHL.The bikes are tracked every step of the way.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fahhrad T Belt update ------

The Fahrrad Manufaktur has been incredibly popular so far.Last October I took deposits on 5 of these bikes.Things have changed as the gearboxes and therefore the bikes themselves will now not be available until February 2011.Nearly all the people who ordered them have upgraded to Rohloff equipped T900's which really are amazing machines.

However when the bikes do reach my shop they will be popular with people who want fantastic quality and a great hub gear whist not willing to stretch the extra few hundred pounds to the Rohloff.

Firstly the appeal of the belt drive which should need no maintenance even if you cycle it around the world is self evident.

Maintenance apart the bike is incredibly silent to cycle and very clean !! There is no oil to transfer to your trousers and no rust from salt ridden chains in the winter.

Even though these bikes are not cheap they are tremendous value when you consider the gearbox as the Alfine 11 speed is only 3 gears short of a Rohloff and yet nearly £1000 cheaper !!

It will be interesting to see any Rohloff developments as Shimano creep ever nearer in the hub gear department.

The T Belt this year comes with a neat chainguard this year which last year was missing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Martin picks up the first T200 we have sold.

This year Fahrrad Manufaktur have added some extra models to their range.One very sensible addition is the T200.The main difference between this model and the ever popular T100 is that the T200 runs with a fully enclosed chainglider chainguard and the 8 speed nexus premium gearbox.For those willing to spend a little more these are sensible upgrades as the chain and you!! are kept much cleaner and all plastic bits are replaced with metal in the gearbox.The seals are also far superior which is important given the fact we are dealing with ever harsher winters(specifically more water and salt !)
The pictures show the T200 and Martin who is my first customer to buy one of these models.He has chosen the ocean blue colour which does look fantastic.