Today, a cycling medley

IMG_0188Today has been a real cycling medley.  I’ve taken a days’ annual leave to catch up on a few things at home.  Naturally cycling features amongst my ‘pottering’ around and what a strange mixture of cycling related things today!

After breakfast it was a case of brewing some more nice coffee, getting out into the garage and giving my Thorn Audax a bit of TLC.  There were so many things that needed attention I had made a list beforehand!  Oh, I also had another unplanned spot on the radio, this time I simply called in to the phone-in where people were complaining about Hertfordshire County Council thinking of introducing a 20mph speed limit in residential areas: I wanted to support this idea so I had an on-air debate with a taxi driver, Andrew from Hatfield, who argued it was an appalling idea and laughable.  I suggested  20mph speed probably would’t lower his average speed much anyway but he wasn’t agreeing.  I think this is my worst radio performance, so far it’s been okay being interviewed by a radio presenter.  I can see I need more practice…..

Back to the bike.  Firstly the front brake pads needed replacing, an easy job but worth doing well.  Rim brakes always work best if they have a slight “toe-in”.  This is where the brake pad, or block, isn’t exactly parallel with the rim.  Ideally it should be slightly slanted so the leading end of the brake block hits the rim first and then the rear part of the pad is then pulled in to the rim by the moving rim itself.  You have to make sure you have replacement brake blocks with concave washers so you can adjusted like that – having a small piece of thin card (see photo) is a very useful tool in getting the brake block into the right position.  There, sone.  These should last for the next 5,000 miles now.

New tyres

I have also had enough of the so-called puncture resistant Panaracer Pasela tyres.  Even the Tourguard version which I have, has been so prone to punctures lately.  They don’t look good for me anymore after 5,000 miles.  Overall I have had too many punctures, with quite a few lately causing me to just draw the line and throw them away.

Panaracer Pasela tyres - how durable are they really?

Panaracer Pasela tyres – how durable are they really?

They’ve had too many gnashes to make them dependable through the winter.  In spite of having a few periods of being puncture free, they have not been reliable enough.  I have gone for Continental Gatorskin 700×25 this time and will blog about them after a few miles have been clocked up.  For now I will say I have gone for the folding bead which brings them in at about 100g lighter than the Panaracers.

You can see an earlier review of these tyres here but as I say, I am now less impressed with them now and quite pleased they’re going.

General look-over

Other bits of TLC for my very best bicycle included a little light oil on the chain; just enough and

IMG_0186definitely not too much.  Run through the gears and a squirt of lube on the derailleur mechs.  I could tell the rear wheel needed a tiny bit of truing which I did while the bike was hanging from the garage roof.  Did I tell you I like to use an LED headlight when I’m working on a bike – even after we had four new lights installed earlier this year!

Finally, a quick way of making sure a bike is okay is simply to drop it.  Yes, drop it, listen out for any clanging, rattles etc.  Oh, when I say “drop” I mean from about 10cm (and don’t go complaining to me if you wreck your wheels by dropping your bike from a great height).

A haircut and more bike chat

Paul, the excellent barber

Paul, the excellent barber

Taxi drivers and barbers are always good people to have a good listen to.  They’ll tell you all the ins and outs of things happening locally as well as take a polite interest in whether you’ve been anywhere nice on holiday.

This time was a little different.  Paul is the man behind Sweeney Todds in downtown Dunstable and in no time at all we were talking cycling.  It’s always fascinating to hear other cyclists with their own take on the world of cycling.  It was lovely to hear Paul coaches younger cyclists in racing and takes a real interest in the sporty side of cycling.  We talked BMX tracks, the Luton-Dunstable Bus Way cycle track and the infamous rough surface.

It seemed that just as the conversation was starting, it was time to stop.  My haircut was done and I’m now neat once again.  Normally I drag having a haircut out for as long as I can so I normally only have it done 3 or 4 times a year.  Now I know of Paul and his interest in cycling, I might need a trim a little more often!

And finally a cycle ride

With all this talk about cycling the day wouldn’t be complete without a quick spin.  My eldest daughter (Becky) and I did a loop taking in Markyate, Studham, Dunstable Downs and back home.  Nice.  No punctures either!


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4 Responses to Today, a cycling medley

  1. Barry Ensten says:


    You’re being a bit hard on the tyres, after 5000 miles they were worn out! I felt the rear and it was paper thin. The Gatorskins are race tyres, so although they are puncture protected they won’t be fantastic and they only last 2500miles (soft compound for grip). Also you need some tread in the winter and they are slicks. I prefer Contact 2s or Marathons, although heavier you will get less punctures.


    • doug says:

      Thanks Barry

      Actually you might be right, I ordered them quickly to get going again this weekend. What I didn’t say was one is the slightly more expensive ‘4 seasons’ variety but admittedly still a semi slick.
      I’m open minded to give them a go, possibly getting some more grippy tyres for the winter and stretching their usefulness out still further.

      Many years ago I used to use Michelin Club Tours which was a semi slick tyre. I got through several pairs of these. These were surprisingly good in terms of grip, so I don’t mind slick-ish tyres on the whole.

      And yes, the Panaracers are rather thin! Can’t really deny that. It’s just I always like to get my “money’s worth”!

      Have you been out today in the gusty weather?

      Regards, Doug.

      • Barry Ensten says:

        Went out today (Sunday) in the wind and did a 34 mile route through Studham, Ashridge, Tring and Leighton Buzzard – didn’t use a computer, so not sure how fast

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