Sunday, 23 December 2012

Last Ride of 2012 ... probably

The weather was quite mild and dry today so after a 5 mile walk with Nicky in the morning, followed by lunch, my son Pat and I headed off north on road bikes. Pat (pictured) is back from Vietnam over Xmas and was on his old steel Ricci bike. We did one of my usual routes to Wingrave and Stewkley, then back via Wing (with stop at shop for drink and snack) and Mentmore. It was quite overcast and windy on the final return leg. It was a round trip of 24 miles.

So this year has seen no epic long distance rides, and in fact the longest day trip was only 78 miles. However, I've probably cycled around 3,500 miles and it has helped me keep fit, and saved a bit of petrol. I don't get obsessive about cycling but regard it as part of a health and fitness regime, that includes good diet (low fat, alcohol & caffeine), good work life balance, and exercise including walking, jogging, gym and swimming. As a result my weight and cholesterol are down, and I'm feeling pretty good.

Next year Nicky and I have our May Land's End trip planned, and I'm thinking of doing a couple of audax/charity rides again in March. I quite fancy doing a 200 km audax/sportive - but only if it is nearby and convenient.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Foil Insoles

On the basis that your feet get cold partly from the pedal clips I've now put a layer of ordinary aluminium foil between my insoles and the shoes. You can buy specially made insoles lined with aluminium, but the Shimano ones are pretty good, and there's not room for two pairs. I've yet to try them out as the weather's been bad, and I've got a cold. I'll let you know the result, but thought it could be a useful low cost tip.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Aylesbury Circuit and GPS

After a cold misty morning the sun broke through about 11 am, so after an early lunch I set off on a new ride I'd planned. The temperature was cold, about 5 or 6C, but warmer than it has been, with no wind, so quite pleasant for cycling. I took an anticlockwise route around, but avoiding Aylesbury, from Tring to Wingrave, Whitchurch, Waddesdon, Stone, and Weston Turville, a total of 34 miles over 2.5 hrs. Unfortunately my feet got quite cold in the last half hour, so it looks as if a single pair of socks isn't enough for my new shoes. The soles of my feet were the coldest, so maybe adding lambswool inner soles might help, although possibly an extra pair of socks and overshoes would do the trick.
I've also been contemplating getting a GPS for a bike, such as a Garmin, but can't justify spending at least £300 one one, when my bike didn't cost much more than this. Also as I'm long sighted I'm unable to focus on my handlebars without reading glasses! Normally I just stop at a junction, get out a map or phone and put on my glasses. I'm normally happy to have a short break anyway.
I've been playing around with an iPhone app I've had for a while called The Complete National Cycle Network - by Sustrans. It allows you to download maps for free to your phone, so if you don't have a signal you can still use offline maps. Of course the iPhone GPS doesn't need a phone signal so you can pinpoint where you are. I tried downloading 1:150,000 and 1:50,000 scale maps, but found that the 1:150K maps were adequate and clearer. The 1:50K maps don't seem to give you many advantages, apart from a few street names, rivers, more detailed woodland and houses. There are no footpaths on them, so you can't use them for hiking, like you can the OS ones. Also the 1:150K maps take up less space, and you should be able to fit the whole country on an iPhone - so they should be good enough for next year's trip to Lands End. Here are some examples with the 1:150K on the left. You can also plot routes, track your existing route etc.

Just discovered if you zoom in further to an urban area you do get a map with all street names marked. So it's probably worth doing this for major towns.