At the end of last year I applied to be part of a new venture in the UK for Pearl Izumi. Pearl is one of the largest cycling clothing brands in the world and based in Boulder, Colarado. Last year Pearl Izumi sponsored the UK Tour Series but this year distributor Madison, based in Milton Keynes has decided to take a different approach and sponsor 50 grassroots cyclists as part of a PI Champion Team instead.
The selection process apparently had to whittle over 300 applicants down to us lucky 50, all from a diverse range of backgrounds and cycling disciplines! We were all invited for the launch day at Madison’s headquarters in MK last weekend and from the moment we got there we felt like superstars, signing in on a massive glass panel, TDF style. We had a series of presentations about the brand, some nutrition advice from Secret Training and then the grand handout of lots of sponsored kit including some very bright and comfy cycling shoes.
After a quick lunch getting to know everyone and lots of fettling of shoe cleats and bikes we split into a couple of groups, roadies and mountain bikers. The roadies said afterwards they felt amazing with a Shimano team car following them around, us mountain bikers got a emergency response medic who looked a little disappointed when we all came back in one piece from our ride around Woburn Sands.
To be honest I had felt a little bit apprehensive before the ride out, everyone else’s facebook profiles seemed to show them a couple of feet off the ground and gathering before the off I seemed to be very much the odd one out in lycra shorts rather than baggies, no knee pads and no dropper seat post. I decided to promote Mountain Bike Orienteering by leaving my Orifix map board on too!
Luckily for me the jumps area of Woburn was closed for felling so I was spared any embarrassment and the riding suited me fine, lots of swoopy decents in and out of the trees and fast narrow singletrack which needed the power on all the time.
A particularly big drop off was a challenge and on my own I probably would have bottled it but I it was fine.
Back at Madison base we were treated to tea and cake and another excited natter before we all headed home to catchup again with all our new cycling #pichampion friends on social media!
This Saturday I will be travelling to Milton Keynes to Maddison to spend the day with the 2017 Pearl Izumi Champion Team.
Drawn from all walks of cycling life, age and ability we have been chosen as brand advocates for the year, all enthusiasts, bloggers and social media addicts. After the inevitable team kit photos and briefing, we will be riding out in our different disciplines for a few hours, the mountain bikers heading for Woburn trails.
I will be riding and competing in Champion Team kit this year – looks bright so you should see me coming !!!!
This photo is of my 1991 Kona Fire Mountain, taken outside my Student house on column road, Cardiff in about May 1991. I road the bike both for commuting, recreational mountain biking and even the odd race until about 1999 when I bought a replacement (Raleigh ex works race machine). I then lent the bike to a Walton Chasers junior who took it off to use as a student commute in Sheffield for about 5 years. I got it back briefly and then gave it to a friend who used it for commuting in Matlock before moving to York and using it there for a commute until about 4 years ago.
Eventually her bike to work scheme made it redundant and I got the frame back and it has been gathering dust in my garage.
I’ve been thinking about building a commuting hack bike for the 4 mile ride into the station when I don’t take the Brompton with me on the train and thought the Kona frame would bring a bit of Retro to the Stafford station bike racks.
I’ve used all sorts of old bits, with a donated fork and just had to buy a seatpost and a stem to get it up and running.
I’ve only pootled up and down the road – it rides OK but its definetley rose tinted glasses – how on earth I rode it up and down Snowdon in the early 90s I have no idea!
A couple of months ago I applied to be a member of the Pearl Izumi Champion Team. Amazingly they selected me along with lots of other people from a diverse range of backgrounds, abilities and 2 wheeled disciplines.
Next step will be a day in Milton Keynes in the New Year where we will get some limited edition kit, be briefed on what we will be up to, what we need to be doing as brand and cycling ambassadors and probably a ride out.
Initial introductions on our team’s private facebook group show we make up a jolly bunch keen to share experiences and I am looking forward to meeting everyone in 2017!
I started a new job at the start of September – I now work for BIM Academy – a Building Information Modelling and Project Technologies consultancy based in Newcastle (upon Tyne).
In my new role, although I am travelling a fair bit, I am based from home and the train links from Stafford and Derby on the West and East Coast main lines are great to get to nearly everywhere I need to go. One of the drivers for a career crossroads was my old bonkers commute which was only sensible by road. Well I am glad to report that although I have, in my first 6 weeks been to Switzerland and Hong Kong, Manchester, Newcastle, London and …. Uttoxeter… my annual car mileage looks to have reduced by at least 16,000 a year!
With so much train travel it seems a little mad to be driving the 4 miles to the station and then catching taxi’s, tubes or leaving extra early for long walks at my destination so I looked into folding bikes.
After looking at Dahon’s and other makes I kept coming back to the British Brompton – practical yet very cool. I kept an eye on ebay and luckily I got one for a snip and on delivery realised I had bought one that had obviously hardly been used. Its a 2 speed apple green with brooks saddle and grips and the flat bar. Not for the shy!
I could talk about the fact that its light and folds down small, has 4 ickle wheels to push it about at stations but that’s boring! whats it like to ride?
Well small wheels are definitely twitchy and getting back onto a 26 inch wheel afterwards , you can really feel the heaviness of the handling. With only two highish gears it needs some grunt up the hills and steep slopes are a real challenge but the higher of the two means you can really fly on the flats and downs. Ill put a GPS on at some point and get some stats but it feels really fast. At those speeds its not for the faint hearted but great fun.
The rim brakes are excellent, and as long as the rear bushes are done tight the frame quite stiff and responsive.
I am keeping a log on the number of car miles I am saving and how much I am saving in car parking fees for the year but I have to balance it a little with safety and comfort and the practicalities of turning up at a client site soaked to the skin as the winter quickly approaches.
I collect Google analytics stat’s on my blog to show sponsors that they are getting some return for their support. It is also interesting and useful to peruse the stat’s to get an idea of what people like and don’t like, what is popular and where my visits come from.
Ives noticed some Google Chrome Adverts joining the Windows Explorer adverts on the television recently. I suspect this graph shows why !
– what do I use? Chrome when I can and Explorer when I have to….
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.
Although sounding like a mountain bike accessory for inclusion in a first aid kit for downhillers, Epic are a Stoke on Trent company producing after market hydraulic Brake bleeding systems. Anyone who has looked up the price of an Avid brake bleeding kit to baulk at the price and then continued to suffer with spongy brakes will jump for one of these kits which are up to 80% cheaper than originals.
They have kindly sent me a couple of kits and some frame protection tape to try and as soon as I get a Torex key small enough for Caths old Magura Julies Ill be giving them a go and posting a full review here. They are available online together with some useful ‘how to do it’ videos at