Tag Archive: Winter


Merry Christmas Folks!

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Back in the day I liked to mess about on my BMX and/or mountain bike. I wasn’t brilliant nor even good but I could pass myself and I enjoyed the challenge of it. At the time I was a tad cocky (hard to believe I know) and I would have given most things a rattle.  Now 25 years later and 10 or so stone heavier I’m a different person.  My co-ordination is awful and my timing has gone to pot.  Is mountain biking a good idea?  Now let’s get this clear I’m not talking about downhill racing or anything hyper nuts just something a little crazy.

I have a mate who I’ve known for 20 years or so and for the last few years throughout the winter he’s been cycling the forests at night.  Again back in the day it would have been me you’d have expected to give that a rattle, not him. Strange how things change. He’s been asking me to give it a go for ages now and so far to date I’ve always found an excuse but of late I’ve been having a rethink.  I still haven’t made my mind up to be honest all I know is that if I’m going to do this I am going to have to work hard at my all round fitness and more importantly my confidence.  I’ll also need to purchase a decent set of lights and be prepared to come off the odd time or three… is it worth it?

I don’t know, all I know is I would like to have my mind made up soon!

This morning saw my old mucker Nigel and I head out on the bikes.  Now to be fair I have been putting in the miles in training (or so I thought) and was expecting a decent wee performance from myself.  As we pulled up at our starting point, the Scarva tea rooms, the fog was present and the temperature cold – 1 degree cold!

Nigel looking like a pro in his new HTC top hit the first mile like a bullet from a gun and naively I thought this was going to be short lived but after mile 5 I began to fear it wasn’t.  Using the scenery to distract myself I pushed on.  The sun was rising and the mist off the canal made for a very beautiful set of surroundings.  The dew covered the many spider webs surrounding us making the ground look like a patchwork quilt. The beauty was outstanding!

Portadown fast approached and I was delighted to hear Nigel agree to my suggestion of a wee break. I jumped of the bike and beat the magic beans into me hoping for something miraculous.  Meantime a solitary rower passed us on the canal and I was wondered if I could swap activity with her.  Nigel took a photo (above) and back on the bikes we climbed.  As we approached the footbridge a half a mile out of Portadown Nigel was talking faster than my wheels were turning and he took his eye off the ball. He took the corner too tight and the handrail of the bridge clipped his hip.  Off came Nigel still talking and thankful to say no damage was done. 14 miles came up and we were roughly at the half way point. I beat a banana down me and was praying the coffee shop which was showing signs of opening would draw Nigel’s attention but no we moved on.

By this stage my legs were showing the first signs of weakening and yet my ears reported hearing Nigel come off with the idea of doing a bit of interval training.  In denial I watched as he put his bike in a top gear and took off like bat out of hell. My legs choked and a response was not given.  Here was my first lesson of the morning.  Solo training is ok but really only if you discipline yourself to push hard.  No surprise then given my previous post on discipline that my month of solo riding was not delivering for me; on reflection it lacked the ingredients of challenge, speed and strength.

The last 4 miles my legs were close to absent and as we returned to Scarva I was grinding to all but a halt.  I’ve done 30 miles recently so why was this one so hard? On reflection this week has been half term with the kids off school and my diet has been ropey underlining yet another lesson from a previous post.  I need to eat better if I want to ride better.

When we stopped and packed the bikes away it was music to my ears to hear Nigel’s suggestion of getting some coffee.  It was an excellent morning which has left me hungry for more.  I need to address my fitness urgently and more importantly not because I feel I have to but because this morning has left me with the feeling that I want to. There is a night and day difference between the two and with that as my motivation I’m on the winning side of the equation.

Winters a coming…

Winter is approaching and the time to get your bike ready for it is here!  The first thing I’ve bought for my new bike is a new set of winter tyres.  Being a fan of Cycling Plus and bikeradar.com I’ve read a review or two on winter tyres and one that consistently got favourably mentioned was the Michelin Krylion Carbon.

Expensive to be fair but given were I live and the fact that the car gets regular punctures never mind anything else I thought it best to buy as bullet-proof as I can.  I mean who wants to be stranded 15 miles from home in the heavy rain and freezing wind??

As you can see in the photo they arrived in a box big enough to house a family of 4 courtesy of Chain Reaction. Whilst that made me snigger getting them on the bike didn’t, it was a right royal nightmare.  3 tubes later and a set of busted tyre levers the bike stood tall showing off her new hardware.  Would the tyres be as good as reported?

Yesterday I took the bike out for a quick 30 miles and I was amazed.  I went for 700 x 25’s, a bigger tyre than the factory fitted ones but in theory should be provide more grip and comfort and when it comes to winter I’ll take all the comfort and grip I can get.  I was expecting the bike to be a little less responsive as a result of slightly heavier and fatter tyres but I’m glad to report that I was wrong, way wrong. The bike is a lot more positive to power whilst providing a definite increase in comfort and confidence.  I’m certainly very happy with this purchase and have no hesitation in recommending them to you!

Just put them on with patience 😉