Showing all posts tagged cycling:

That Feeling When…

You know that feeling when you realise you may be a little bit outside the design envelope for your gear? That.

I was on the Bianchi, my gravel bike, not my full-sus fat-tyre MTB, when I ran into a stretch of uncleared road. I thought it was just two corners' worth, but it turned out to be quite a bit more than that, and icy underneath the snow.

Not bad for the last ride of the year!

Hipster Bike Downtown

In my last bike post introducing the Bianchi, I mentioned that I had turned my previous steed into a single-speed city runabout. Well, today I was out running an errand astride said hipster conveyance, so I thought I’d get a pic of it too.

I love how the conversion turned out. The flat bars are raised up by flipping the stem upside-down, so it’s actually a pretty comfortable thing to ride. It’s also still a very light bike, with its carbon fork and all, so it’s nippy and manoeuvrable around town. The old Campagnolo drive train was completely shot, and these days a gravel bike frame that won’t take disk brakes is basically unsaleable, so this is a better fate for my old Rat — even if it does mean that I now own more bicycles than the rest of the family out together!

Appropriately enough for such a bike, what I was doing out and about was buying fresh-ground coffee from my coffee roaster. The shop is a couple of streets back from the square in the photo, but they have a century-old roaster, and when it’s running you can smell the coffee clear to the square!

Gravel Bike In Its Natural Habitat


My old gravel bike — an original Cinelli Racing Rats set — had eaten its Campagnolo running gear, so I was due a new bike anyway. Then the government announced a fund to support alternative forms of transportation, effectively price support for bikes, so I dived in. I ordered this Bianchi Via Nirone 7 gravel bike in July and it didn't arrive until mid-November, so only just in time for the subsidy cut-off date! Then what with one thing and another, this was the first time I actually got to take it out, but I am very happy with both look and feel.

The one aspect that is not 100% spot on is that the wheels feel disproportionately heavy. I'm not sure whether this is the Kenda tyres — I've only ever seen the brand on e-bikes, where weight is not the primary consideration — or the wheels, which are generic. Maybe I'll look out for a discounted wheelset in the new year sales and try my go-to Schwalbe Marathons on them, and see what that does for me.

And the Cinelli? Oh, it's still part of the family; I swapped the worn-out Campy drivetrain for a fixed-gear setup, put straight bars and flat pedals on it, and now it's my hipster city runabout. I'll get a pic of that on our next expedition.

Rider On The Storm



Managed to dodge the storms almost all the way home on this morning’s bike ride. At least it was refreshing!

An Unexpected Holiday

Every year after the end of school we have the habit of travelling to Finale Ligure, where my father-in-law’s family is from, for a couple of weeks. This is a a couple of hours’ drive from home, so not too strenuous. In a normal year, SWMBO and I spend the weekends at the sea, and then drive to offices, airports, or train stations early on Monday morning, leaving the kids with her parents. We would then return to Finale on Friday, or if possible, on Thursday night so we could work from the beach on the Friday.

This year was a bit different. Once the Covid lockdowns hit in earnest, we had assumed we would not be able to travel to Liguria in June; the border with the region where we live had been closed to non-essential travel. However, in early June the restrictions lifted, and so we trekked out here.

This year is the first year I have spent the full fortnight in Finale, instead of disappearing during the working week. It has been somewhat challenging to work from here, but I figured it out, more or less — and one benefit is that I have been able to get up early, sneak in an early-morning bike ride, and be back with warm focaccia straight from the bakery for breakfast, all before 9am.

Finale is one of the top mountain-bike resorts in Europe, and stiff with ancient rusty camper vans from Germany and Scandinavia with bikes strapped to them that are worth several multiples of the van and all its contents. What is also great is the variety: you can be bombing downhill through a forest, then there’s a village that looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings where you can stop for coffee, then there’s a technical rock garden, and then at the end you can cool off in the Med. Pretty good, for an unexpected holiday.

That last picture is my office in Finale, yes. So if you’ve been on calls with me in the last fortnight, now you know why I’ve been using Zoom backgrounds more than normal…

The one downside is that the two episodes of the Roll For Enterprise podcast that I recorded down here have noticeably worse audio for my parts, because I was using AirPods instead of my fancy home studio setup. Something to bear in mind in future years, since we typically record on Friday afternoon at my end, when we would usually aim to be in Finale even if we had not spent the whole week here.

The Dangers of Cycling

Part 1

Dear pedestrians, if you have decided that you can't take it any longer and you are going to end your lives by throwing yourselves under a moving vehicle - may I suggest choosing a train, bus, or articulated truck, rather than my bicycle? And if you are not trying to kill yourselves, maybe you should stop crossing the road with your back to traffic and without looking!

At least one person does this every time I ride through town. The problem is that when I'm riding through town I often have my son on the back of the bike, so I can't relieve my feelings through swearing - or not out loud, at least. Also, because my son is on the bike, I am much more aggrieved at attempts to harm the two of us than I would be if I were alone, plus the bike itself is correspondingly less manoeuvrable with the extra weight high over the rear wheel.

Remember: look both ways before crossing the street. Today the worst that happened was that a cyclist got cross with you. Tomorrow, the silent vehicle you didn't hear and didn't check for might be an electric car, and you end up lying in the road all mangled while cyclists ride past, pointing and laughing.

Part 2

Those markings on the side of the road indicate a bicycle lane. The metal uprights are intended to keep cars out of it. Well done on squeezing your car in there regardless, forcing cyclists out into the main road to avoid you. Now you've achieved that, could you at least check your mirrors before pulling a U-turn out of your newly-created parking spot?

I hope the smack I gave your front quarter-panel left a dent. SMIDSY1, indeed.

Conclusion

I am going to fit air-horns and strobes to my bikes, and start wearing knuckle-dusters and steel-toed boots when I'm riding.


  1. If you're wondering about SMIDSY, here is an explanation.