Category Archives: Getting Out

Riding outside is better than inside

Eye-wear – Oakley Doakley

On a slightly lighter note from the last two posts, ahem, have you noticed that the riders  in the professional peleton are wearing these guys more (again) in 2012?


These guys work

SKU# 26-214

As opposed to these newer fangled things that some guy Cavendish is sporting:


Jawbone - Awe heck my peripheral vision is blocked

SKU# 04-215

A detailed review this is not, but I’ve tried them both and I never liked the Jawbone because of the frame along the bottom which obscures your peripheral vision; not a good thing when you need to check if a rider or a big metal box is coming up your flank.

I’d happily buy another pair of the Radar Path, fantastic glasses but not these Oakley-Doakley things Cavendish is wearing. Oh, and why didn’t he wear them when he won the 2011 worlds?

Back to my original point – check out the photos on your favourite cycling results site and I think you’d be hard pushed to disagree, the Radar Path is making a comeback.

Cyclist awareness and the Law

Following on from yesterday’s post, I’m now seeing more and more material on Cyclist awareness and attitude changes.

Video’s of driver aggression from the cyclist’s perspective appear to be having a a real impact as they are used as evidence in Legal proceedings.   The Times newspaper has gone so far as to post a video of a ‘driver jailed for using bus as ‘weapon’ against cyclist‘.

Our club is a small bunch of experienced roadies. I’d say we all have very good bike handling skills, we’ve all been at it for over two decades and we’re all experienced drivers.  As cyclists we know the warning signs right down to heavy tyre noise meaning its big and its coming quick.

Here’s some statistics:

I’ve been knocked off twice in the three decades I’ve been at it and consider myself lucky for such a small number and the minor injuries received.  In these incidents I was not at fault. Of the others in our group of eight, two have been knocked off more than once.

Injuries my team mates have received range from broken wrists, to a collarbone and the most serious involved broken leg and ribs after being ploughed into.

I’ve had more near misses than I can remember, heard cars locking up behind me as the driver turned his head to a forward looking stance just in time, seen caravans side swipe a rider in our group and watched an elderly driver overtake and pull in without actually going passed the rider he was trying to overtake resulting in injury – the driver didn’t stop .

Road Rage from drivers is phenomenal, I’ve had drivers drive at me, swerve and try and push me off the road with their vehicle and been buzzed by motorbikes and teenage drivers more times than I can remember, just because I was in the way.

I  think Chris Boardman’s stance in The Times could help, ultimately it has to be about education and I firmly believe that this starts from the moment young ones can speak.  So often I’ve been out training and seen a toddler out with their mother and they say, “Look mum, bike”, it should be “Look mum, man on bike”.

Road Safety Campaigns

I’ve been biking on roads since I was ten years old giving me 30 years (comprising two decades of racing) of experience both good and bad of all road users.  Being human I try to learn for the next time every time and tend to group those experiences and the people in them in several categories – like insurers do these days – and these stereotypes or ‘scenarios’ have served me well.

Just like a boy scout you have to prepare for the worst and do what you can to be ready for when things go wrong and they inevitably do. Knowing what to look out for means you are a little better prepared for when drivers don’t see you, for when its rained for the first time in several days and the roads are greasy, for when pedestrians aren’t paying attention…

However, we all know that being careful and thinking that you can in some way control events and your journey through this world is full hardy.  For most of the time close misses and minor injuries are down to luck rather than exquisite bike handling, lightning reactions or constantly scanning for road scenarios that can lead to something bad happening.

Over these 30 years I’ve watched how the mainstream media and politicians have so often missed the point when it comes to cyclists safety.  There is little doubt however that there has been a step change in momentum for improved cyclist safety in the last decade.  Here in the UK cycling has become more mainstream and coupled with the no-win-no-claim legal culture there is now much more statistical evidence of cycling related injuries from cars.  I still believe that a financial penalty will have more impact in changing attitudes than blood and gore road safety campaigns.  I also think, perhaps naively, that the Manx Missile’s 2011 World Road Race victory has significantly raised respect for cyclists in the U.K.

Every effort is worth making and I’m glad to see the likes of The Times is part of the step change in momentum as they take up the campaign on behalf of their injured journalist Mary Bowers, here’s hoping she makes a good recovery; you can visit The Times campaign at the following address:

Jason McIntyre was one of the many statistics who was not so lucky and having raced with him on several occasions, there was no doubt about his phenomenal physical ability and exemplary bike handling.

Here’s hoping we all stay lucky.

Two bikes or one

There have been a number of posts about this topic across the globe and there is little doubt that two bikes are required if you live in  Scotland.

A winter bike will very quickly become trashed by the harsh wet and salty conditions in just a couple of years and this comes at a cost.  For the last couple of years I’ve been riding a single speed winter bike to keep these costs down and make maintenance as simple as possible.  Its also because I adhere to the two decent bikes for summer principle – one for beating the hell out of commuting and training in wet summers and the other for those nicer days (the other 50% of the time).  I also think you benefit from the leg speed and strength gained from riding a single speeder over the winter – I’ve a 46 x 16 which is around a 76 inch gear.

Fixies and Single Speed road bikes have become increasingly popular (especially in urban areas where they are seen as a fashion item)  in the last 5 years and this post looks at the offerings in this re-born strand of the cycling retail market.

Off the peg steel framed – Giant, Specialized and On-One £400 to £800

Giant Bowery 72 Steel RRP £450

Giant Bowery 2012 RRP £450, Specialized Langster  RRP £400, On-One Macinato RRP £799

When comparing the frames there is not a lot of difference between these steel offerings, the Bowery used to come in Aluminium but has gone over to steel as has the Langster in 2011.  The Langster’s frame does stand out however but only because it uses branded tubes – Reynolds 520 – which certainly beats the Bowery on quality.

Specialized Langser Steel 2012 RRP £400

The Macinato does not use branded tubes.

They are all claimed to be strong and lightweight but anyone who has ridden a 4130 chrome molybdenum frame like the Macinato will know this is not the case and is merely marketing jargon.

Finishing Kits

The Bowery comes with largely proprietary finishing kit that is not really fit for purpose as a club level winter bike due to its poor quality; for example it is provided with a 3 x 32 chain and running gear which will wear more quickly than a heavy duty 1/2 by 1/8 chain.

The Langster is again better than the Bowery, as it’s Specialized branded parts are in this reviewer’s opinion, better quality such as the chainset and flak jacket tyres and it tops this off with Mavic rimmed wheels.

In contrast Macinato has largely branded parts, Weinmann wheels, Selle Italia saddle and Sram brakes that should last a couple of winters if maintained.

On One Macinato RRP £799

Is the Macinato’s frame and finishing kit worth the extra £400 pounds? Definitely not, those brake levers look awfully cheap for an £800 bike.

Indeed, these bikes are all disappointing from a value for money perspective and this is even more evident when they are compared with  comparatively priced road bikes that are running derailleur gears.

Same money on a bike with gears

If you want to spend your money on an out of the box winter bike with gears then you’d be hard pushed to get better value for money from the likes of the following, the Trek 1.1 RRP £550, the Giant Defy 4 RRp £599 and the Specialized Allez RRP £599.  These are sound winter bikes.

It is quite shocking when comparing the functionality and componentry of these geared bikes with the lack of componentry and sophistication provided by the Bowery and Langster (admittedly the Macinato does a better job at this) – you get a lot less single speed bike for your money.  If I’m spending the same money why am I getting quality that is so much poorer?

In my opinion off-the-peg single speed bikes are over-priced because of two factors, their target market being the fashion conscious urbanite and secondly the relatively small number of people in this market strand.

I think you can build a good base winter bike out of these single speeders.  I  have built a bespoke (cheap) but reliable single speed winter bike based on a Bowery and this will be the topic of another post.

Riders – Where to ride – Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

As a club CycleSport Dundee don’t do a lot of mountain biking but we all like it when we do.  I was impressed to see that MTBing is being promoted by Shona Robison, Scottish Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport in a recent news item on the Scottish Cycling website.

A new website promotes some of my favourite local ‘where to ride’ spots such as GlenTress and Tentsmuir Forest, see this for more – Riders – Where to ride – Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.

Going to see the Ronde

A few years ago we went to see the Ronde van Vlaanderen, back when Van Petegem was ‘de man’ and I hope we’re going back in 2012.  I can’t remember a great deal of Brussels for a number of self inflicted reasons, and am trying to piece it together for a revisit.

What does stand out certainly was seeing the Grand Place –

The Grand Place

and using it as a land-mark to find our way back to the hotel.  I’m trying to do the same thing now and piece together how we got back to the hotel from O’Reilly’s – which is just down the road from the Grand Place.

I think its somwhere up there:

Here’s the Street view from beside O ‘ Reilly’s:


If we do get round to cycling this time, then Routes at has some routes – they are mostly on the short side but there are a couple of 3 hour rides in there.

Addendum: Just found Bunch-Ride-Finder which is to coin a phrase, awesome.

Rapha Bib Shorts vs Assos

Bibshorts, the most important thing next to your saddle, choice, that you can make.   Having never looked at any Rapha clothing before or even been particularly aware of the brand, I’ve  just learned that they are described as a premium product which makes me think to compare them to Assos.

Aside – just the task of doing a quick comparison of the currently priced £145 Rapha Bib Shorts and matching them on looks alone with the £120 Assos T FI.Uno Bibs was a pain in website usability, Rapha’s site was a breeze but the Assos site navigation pushes you toward the Zegho sub- site for their new glasses range and the user experience sucks – complete with a flashing background image!

A looks-alone comparison

The Uno looks like a better product and even in plain old black, looks slicker than the Rapha.  When it comes to purchasing through a website, the product has got to out-shine the competition and although the Rapha imagery is slick, the product looks bland.  On the plus side for Rapha is their 30  day free trial period which is indicative of the challenge of getting established in this high-end market.

Tony’s Big Trip

Tony is living it up in the Southern-hemisphere and sent us these pictures from Blairgowrie of all places. We need a geo location for Blairgowrie, as I’ve had a quick look on Google Maps to get street view on this but couldn’t find it.

This is of course not the Blairgowrie we’re used to passing through when doing Blair-Alyth at this time of year – Town
Courtesy of –

Not sure about the bike you got a loan of though Tony, as it looks distinctly like Campag is on-board and we all know you’re a Shimano man through and through – the sacrifices you’ve made for your sport are phenomenal! Please post us a comment and let us all know how hot it is out there just to make us all really jealous.

How’s the sunburn?

Where to?

Somewhere where there’s not too many hills:

Map picture

Open to suggestions and I’ll post it here.

The usual guidance applies:

  • Not too far so that the bag logistics are easy to implement
  • Enough pubs
  • Good food
  • A tailwind home!