Ride Staffs Sportive and Cycling Festival 2017

I’ve never done a sportive before, the thought of paying to ride around some open roads to be honest hadn’t appealed to date but I thought I should be it a go and it was another chance to show off the #pichampion kit 🙂

The event was based out of Chillington Hall, a location I know well from planning an orienteering event earlier this year, the courtyard in the model farm is a great start finish venue. I started at 8.35, fairly late I think for the long route, and set out to the major climb of the day (its quite little really) up on to Cannock Chase. The route as far as Hixon I know well, from a combination of Mammoth Monday night rides and my normal training loops.  I’d decided to use a camel back with just over two litres in, a couple of bars and a jam roll and eat and drink on the ride rather than stop at the feeding stations so whizzed past the first at Wolesley Bridge. The Medium and Long routes were common as far as Great Heywood and lots peeled off towards Tixall, heading form home.

I think I went out a bit too fast so on the route to Uttoxeter I backed off a bit, enjoying the quiet lanes and pretty Staffordshire villages. I spotted a couple of nice looking pubs I might go back to!

Winding through Uttoxetter took us to the second feed stop but I rode on past confident I had enough liquid in reserve. It was then out along a rolling B road to Stone.  I had 3 enforced rests in Stone, first the railway level crossing, then the traffic lights in the middle of town and then again on the climb out at some 3 way roadworks – all very frustrating. We had been fighting a head wind as far as Stone but as we turned for home the wind was behind us and I knew there were  no more significant climbs. 

I dug deep for the next hour, slowly overhauling small groups of riders before coming into the back gate of Chillington. Knowing the site I new what to expect, the track is very rough, I was fine but there were a few grumbles coming from people on expensive machines and a couple of grumpy people walking in with punctures.

The finish was beautiful, up the hill across the estate’s parkland towards the house – I took about 4 hours 20 min for the 70 mile route and was all in at the end.  The atmosphere afterwards was great, munching a Freshwood Pizza and enjoying a beer in the sunshine watching the #TDF in the courtyard.
So would I do another – probably, I went much faster  much further and dug deeper that on a training ride. 

ridestaffs results 2017 here

#pichampion # endureandenjoy365 

Brompton World Championships – I’ve got an entry!

brompton2Well, after not much to tell I’ve entered an event, got an entry and now have something to train for….

The Brompton World Championships!  http://www.brompton.com/Events

My Brompton has been a little underused for about a year and needs a little TLC but I think this event might get me back riding it regularly. So if you see a green Brompton being ridden like its been stolen around Stafford…. that will be me training for July’s event.



Tour of Britain – Brocton

We managed to get Holly out of school for a couple of hours and rode up the road to Brocton to watch the Skoda King of the Mountains Climb from Brocton Green up to Glacial Boulder.

Originally we were just going to ride up to where we were going to watch but Holly got a good reception form the crowds lining the climb so we carried on up to the Skoda finish line where she got a really big cheer. Hopefully the feeling will inspire her for the future.

We came back down and watched on a slightly up hill section without too many others with good views down the road. we scribbled on the road with chalk, met up with more friends and started the wait. After what seemed like hundreds of police motorbikes, sirens blaring, through came the tour. All over in 30 seconds but we got to see our heroes close up.


Android bike computer – IpBike

Many UK riders have seen in the past few years British Mountain Bike Orienteer Ifor Powell riding around with a small box on this handlebars, a home made cycle computer. (he is a electronic engineer and programmer) This development has culminated with an android phone based bike computer which in my opinion ticks every box. I have been using it for a while and recommend trying it if you have an android phone. ( I use a sony Xpeira Ray though the Active model would be perfect)

IpBike is an Android bike computer app. It does everything you would expect of high end bike computer plus a bit more with the extra capabilities of a phone. There are a good number of Android bike computer apps but most of them just use the GPS. IpBike also gets data from ANT+ based sensors, e.g. bike speed and cadence sensors as well as heart rate and also ANT+ power meters. For this to work you either need a phone with built in ANT support, like various members of the Sony range or with a modern phone you can plug in a USB ANT stick to add ANT support as detailed here. This of course allows you to use it to log your turbo trainer sessions as well as outdoor rides.

As well as supporting ANT+ sensors if your phone has a pressure sensor IpBike uses it to give you high quality altitude information and thus those interesting incline and rate of climb numbers. The display is optimised for use on the bike, with b
IpBike is free to download from Google Play but there is a 1,000,000 wheel revolution limit to let you try it out after which you you need to buy IpBikeKey to unlock the limit.ig clear text you can read at a glance for the main sensor data. There is mapping data from Open Street Map sources that can either be directly downloaded or pre loaded on the phone as described here. You can upload a .gpx route files to follow, the map will show the route with your position on it and automatically rotate the map to keep it aligned as you go. Post ride there are all the stats you want from the ride as well as a map of the route and a plot you can pan and zoom over to take a closer look at the climbs with. The feature it has you don’t get with a stand alone bike computer is direct upload to various websites like Strava, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and Attackpoint so no need to have your PC around. Once you have a good bit of data recorded you can query it to say find out how many race miles you did in the year or your total stats for the month.




Tour of Britain – Brocton KOM preview

This year stage 5 of The 2012 Tour of Britain (the Stoke on Trent stage) will be passing through Stafford and more importantly my village of Brocton.

The race route comes out of Stafford on the A34 before turning left into Brocton and then turning right for a short sharp Cat 2 Skoda King of the Mountains climb up towards Brocton Coppice and Glacial Boulder after 29km of racing (expected time of arrival 11.20am).

This climb is a favourite haunt of mine for hill sessions being a nice 5 minute warm up ride from home and the steepest bit of road around. I will be there on Thursday together with a gaggle of kids from Berkswich Primary School to scribble on the road in chalk and cheer on Cav, Wiggo and all the other riders.

As I know the hill intimately from many reps up and down it I thought I would preview it and give my thoughts for tactics.

Firstly the entrance to the hill off of the village green is approached after a very fast series of tight right, left and right hand bends and becomes extremely narrow as soon as you get on to the hill which immediately becomes very steep. I’ve marked steep section on the map with blue. (green is fast and more or less flat or downhill and orange is a slight gradient (more or less flat to a proff cyclist)

The steep section is only 300metres or so in length before it levels off and becomes a gradual gradient or flat for another 800m to the entrance to the Brocton Coppice Carpark. A key feature here is the danger from deer who constantly run across the road. There are also some mild speed bumps to overcome.

From Brocton Coppice to the KOM summit at Glacial Boulder, the 800 metres of road is essentially flat and very fast with the exception of some fairly rounded but sizeable speed bumps which will make the sprint for the line a challenge.

So in summary the Brocton climb is half climb half sprint. The narrowness of the access meaning a there will be real advantage to being on the front of the peloton coming into the village, though the finish at Glacial Boulder really suits the sprinter rather than the climber. There is time to attack the steep section, sit on a wheel and recover somewhat and then attack again on the last 800 meters – one for Cav perhaps or one for an early breakaway?

On Sunday my 9 year old daughter Holly and I went to ride the climb ahead of the race to let her get a feel of what it would be like. I didn’t think for a minute she would manage it on her Isla bike but to her credit she got stuck in and rode it all and even practiced a hands up winning celebration when we got to Glacial Boulder after she beat me in our sprint finish on this normally fairly quiet slow road.

The views out over the Sherbrook valley out towards the Peak District are spectacular from the Glacial Boulder trig point so be sure to take in the view after you have watched the tour wiz past. For those wanting to watch the action on Tuesday there is limited car parking on the cross chase road and several small car parks along it but there is no parking at all in Brocton. See you there!

Photos of the climb below from bottom to the top


The Cycle Show – ITV4 review

Cycling on TV is sorely lacking. ITV4 have fantastically covered cycle races from the UK tour series to The Tour this year but it’s all road racing, exciting as this is there is nothing for the enthusiast up until now…..

ITV4 and Century television have bravely embarked on an 8 show series off the back of the recent Tour de France coverage. The first episode was on Monday and it is now available on ITV player hosted by Graham Little.

It is sponsored by the giant mail order bike company Chain Reaction Cycles which to be honest is fine. A new show like this needs funding from somewhere and as long as it’s not in your face I don’t mind.

The show is modelled on a magazine ‘top gear’ style show with features, chat and regular items to keep things flowing along.

It is based in London cycle café – ‘Look Mum No Hands’ a regular haunt of mine a year or so back when Pozzoni’s London office was almost next door on Old Street.

The first show obviously started with some post Tour Bradley hype but the euphoria of the win made the café so noisy it was obvious the guests and production crew were struggling. I am sure they will sort this out on the next show.

First Guest was Nigel Mansell, now turned cyclist and supporting Team UK Youth. I’d forgotten quite how monotone he was and it’s a shame the interviewer didn’t give a little more context and introduce UK Youth a bit more. He seemed a bit shell shocked to be interviewing such a famous celeb! Graham Obree was also on the sofa. I know who he is, but any non-cycle fans would not have a clue and he was not properly introduced.

We then had a piece on Box hill, where the Olympic road race will be held next week, which was OK but I’m not sure where it was being pitched. Not enough detail for the cycle race fan and not enough background for the novice.

Next guest was the ‘inventor’ of the mountain bike, the crazy Gary Fisher who lived up to his name. Again I know who he is but he needed more of an introduction.

There was a slightly patronising how to cycle in the city bit which was actually pitched OK for beginners but tried to cover too much and was at odds with the rest of the show.

More chat with no real direction and then they finished with a great roller race between the two guests which was fun and I am sure this will turn into a top gear style star in a reasonably priced car type leader board.

Overall it was a good effort but I felt struggled with its level of pitch, they tried to cram too much in and the balance of chat to feature leant too much to the chat .

I’ve set the PVR to record the whole series and look forward to the next ones, although I hope they have taken on board some of the criticism flying around on the various social media and well used forums.

Its worth a watch – support it, help it or lose it!


The Cycle Show on Twitter https://twitter.com/thecycleshowtv

The Cycle Show on facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/thecycleshowtv

En velo avec gâteau: patisseriecyclisme.com

A great new website for us cake loving cyclists was launched this week. Every good recreational ride should include a cafe stop and often a training ride might end up requiring one. Patisserie Cyclisme is a website that hopes to create a directory of cycle friendly cafes not just in the UK but worldwide. They are even hoping to create a kite mark for quality cake.

Why not get your favourite local haunts on… www.patisseriecyclisme.com