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Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

The Tour de France

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 by Mick Allan

Am I the only person in the UK who isn’t apopleptic with delight at the prospect of a British winner of the TdF. For the first time in the Tour’s 107 yr history a Brit finished the race in The Yellow Jersey, it’s all over the front page of every newspaper in the land (including – unbelievably – The Daily Mail, that’s never, as far as I’m aware, had a single good word to say about cycling/cyclists). And I don’t give a shit.

It dawned on me over the weekend as people who know me – cyclists and non-cyclists alike – have been greeting me with big smiles and expressions of wow, isn’t it great? And I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to crack a smile. I am, it cannot be denied, a miserable old curmudgeon. I have the kind of droopy middle-aged face skin which makes it look like I’m scowling even when I’m happy. But that aside, you’d imagine that, as a Cyclist this would make me happy. But it doesn’t make me happy.

The trouble is this: I was once in love with The Tour. I watched it every day – and the highlights on a rest day – and for twenty years I harboured an ambition to one day join the throngs lining one of the mountain stages. As someone who’d survived testicular cancer I watched Lance destroy the competition year after year from the edge of my seat. I was a fan.

Fignon, Hinault, Delgado, Lemond, Indurain, Millar, Pantani, et al. I was a devoted fan. I loved the heroism of it, and I loved the heroes. And then it all went to shit. Year after year I watched as the drugs scandal after drug scandal slowly ruined my sport. It became harder and harder to feel any joy in it. I tried to stay true but, like anyone in a romantic relationship who is lied to, whose lover cheats on them and, however deep the feelings, eventually, slowly, inevitably….. I fell out of love.

In recent weeks it has been announced that the US Drug people haved banned Armstrong from competition and are bringing charges against him. That was the final straw.

So last week when Wiggo was doing well, and then when he looked certain to win, and even when it was inevitable – I simply couldn’t bring myself to watch it. In my heart it’s broken

So well done Brad, great guy, worthy winner. But for me – it’s just too frickin late.

Anyway..

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 by Mick Allan

Cheer up! The sun eventually came out and it looks like it’s here to stay after the wettest spring in living memory. Woop.

Cyclorama is moving premises today to a new office nearer to civilization.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as. Stay tuned for a great raft of product reviews on the blog and new manufacturers and their products featured on the main site.

Mick.

Hello again..

Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Mick Allan

I do try to keep this blog on topic as much as I can. About cycling and the issues facing cyclists and shiz. But this post isn’t about cycling. It’s about cancer.

I had cancer in 1990, testicular cancer, from which I recovered very well after they removed my right one and blasted me with chemo. So when I started to feel the same nagging ache a few months ago I didn’t need too much cajoling to get myself to the GP’s surgery. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t until I awoke from the general anaesthetic that I knew I’d managed to keep goolie number two. So, actually I didn’t have cancer, only a cyst. But they don’t know for sure until they remove it – and very few hospitals have the skills to put it back in once it’s out. So I still have half a set of balls for which I am grateful. I guess I’m supposed to be happy that they didn’t find cancer but I just feel battered. Three weeks on and I’m only now considering the possibility of returning to work. And I’m not feeling much compassion for the slowly deflating mango-sized object between my legs. The source of all this pain and suffering, part of me whishes it gone. My hormone levels are erratic so my moods swing between weepy and angry – for no apparent reason. Male PMS!? It’s hard on the people around me.*

So there we are. Normal service will be resumed as soon as poss. But the reason I’m writing this is to say, please guys, pay attention to your lumps and bumps. I was lucky, I got it quick – and in the event it turned out not to be cancer. In a couple of weeks I’ll be back to normal. Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer, but I like to think that it wasn’t the cancer which emigrated from his balls to his brain which nearly killed him, but his stubborn refusal to visit the GP.

* But the worst thing of all is that I can’t ride my frickin bike!!!!!

Africa Bike. Episode 152…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 by Mick Allan

The snow melted faster than it came. Over the weekend I stole the opportunity to fit the new Profile Imperial 44t ring – one tooth smaller than the one I removed for a negligible change to the bike’s gearing. 2.2% lower. Hardly worth mentioning…

The old chain was utterly worn out so I replaced it before it was able to do any damage to the new ring. I abuse and neglect my bikes, my guilt assuaged by the vague notion that I am somehow ‘doing product testing’. It’s not laziness, no. This bike and Big Blue live outside. A true utility bike must be able to withstand anything nature can throw at it. Failing to lube my chain regularly and not replacing it when it’s worn out is something that many people do to their bikes. The Africa bike is now running as well at it should have when I first built it from the box. Where the line is between slackness and product research I’ll leave you to decide.

Africa bike againIs this now the strangest looking Africa Bike on the planet?

Over the years, especially recent years, I’ve been slowly raising my bars. Partly it’s an age thing, but also my riding is more utility oriented these days. My road bike got sold and my mountain bike is in bits. And I don’t miss them. Until the weekend  the height of the bars on the Africa bike was limited by the length of my cables. What was happening, (and which I was very resistant to!) was that every time I raised the bars I wanted to raise them further. Those of you who have been riding about bolt upright in the Euro/Dutch stylee for many years will be reading this with a sense of ‘well duh!’ I’m sorry, it just took me a long time to latch on. With new cables on I was able to raise them higher still. And I think I’m nearly there…

I had the good fortune to encounter a Montego Mamafeits recently, and it scores where my Africa bike falls; the top tube length. If I want to be able to carry Rufus and have my bars nearer to me I really need bars with a greater sweep back and a greater distance from seat to head.

Is the Africa Bike reaching the end of its usefulness? Do I need to commission a new frame from Ricky Feather. Can he weld gas pipe?

Horrid Shi**no zinc plated chain will have to do until I can find a chrome SRAM or KMC one. The reflective stickies between the spokes deliver a woosh of light as the wheel spins when illuminated by headlights. Applied only half way around the rim – from valve to weld – gives a better effect in my opinion. A pretty good lightshow when combined with the reflecty side wall of the front tyre methinks.Bling. Ring.

Aero Dyabolical

Friday, February 10th, 2012 by Mick Allan

Yepp windscreen not all it cracked up to be shock!

I haven’t even ridden it with the boy yet but there’s already a problem. An unfortunate side effect of the use of the screen is that, when riding into the wind in snowy conditions it becomes impossible to see. Kind of defeats the object huh? What happens is the falling snow is deflected upwards and rushes over the top of the screen – straight into the rider’s eyes.

unfairingI’m riding along – peering out from under my peaked cap – thinking; ‘Why the hell can’t I see in this?’ It wasn’t until I put a hand up against the edge of the screen to dam the air flow that I could see where I was going. It really was quite horrible, tyres sketching on the slush whilst riding virtually blind. Am I the first person to have noticed this? Shirley not. I dread to think how it will behave riding into rain.

The solution is simple. Install a gutter to disrupt the airflow. So why didn’t they design it so? I’m happy to do it myself – if I can find the right material in a good profile. I just seems a bit odd to me that the Dutch – who get plenty of weather – sell/use something which is so flawed.

Aero!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by Mick Allan

Yepp Windscreen

When I was an Industrial Design student I designed a hand held mobile phone no bigger than, say, a Nokia N97. This was 198cough and I was marked down severely because, according to the tutor, mobile phone technology would never be small enough to fit inside such a small unit. And later, inspired by the groundbreaking work being done by folks in the world of Human Powered Vehicles, I designed a handlebar mounted fairing-cum-windscreen for a bicycle I was marked down because there wasn’t and probably never would be any demand for such a product.

I’m not bitter.

But it gave me a great deal of pleasure to buy one of these here Yepp windscreens >>>

… from David Hembrow’s Dutch Bike Bits. To keep the wind and rain off my little Rufus. I shall let you know how it functions in a future report. My only gripe so far is that the bracket which attaches it to the handlebar stem is such an enormous great lump (designed as it is to carry a Yepp child seat with, presumably, a child in it) that I fear it may encroach on the crotchal area of our little boy. We shall see. Reluctant to take a hacksaw to it just yet…

Tall bike

And this:

Profile Imperial 42t ring

For the same bike. It’s lush, and now that every Beemexer on the planet is running compact – it’s now obselete! And hence very cheap! Which is nice.. To replace the (note: reversed to share the wear) ancient second-hand and knackered Profile ring which is on it at the mo.