Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cycling Safety Infographic

I'm a sucker for infographics - and a fan of cycle safety - so I was pleased to be sent this by 50cycles blog. As well as interesting stats and results from their own research, there are some useful safety tips.

50cycles is the UK blog of leading German electric bicycle maker Kalkhoff, but the results are equally illuminating for us mere human-powered cyclists.

Some stats that really stood out for me:

  • Over 700,000 adults in the UK cycle to work (25% of commuters in Cambridge!)
  • More than 19,000 accidents involving cyclists were reported in 2012
  • There were 118 cycling fatalities on UK roads in 2012


Monday, 6 October 2014

Has Danny Macaskill finally bitten off more than he can chew?

Over the years, trials rider Danny Macaskill has performed some amazing feats on his bike and made some incredible films. But his latest, filmed on his native Skye, really takes the biscuit.

In #TheRidge, Macaskill takes a genuinely death-defying ride along the notorious Cullin Ridge.

I have to admit, I watched much of this through my fingers, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Trek - Incredible customer service!

I just wanted to update my earlier blog post about the crack in my 2007 Trek Madone carbon frame.

Just to re-cap: I discovered a tiny crack in the seat stay of my frame, remember that Trek offered a lifetime warranty on frames, contacted the shop I bought the bike from - Mike Vaughan Cycles, took the frame in, dug out the original receipt and was waiting on Trek's response.

That was just over a fortnight ago. Well, here's their response:



That's right, Trek have replaced my 2007 Trek Madone 5.2 frame with an unused 2013 Trek Madone 5.9 frame, worth £1,800!!!

That is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most amazing customer service I have ever experienced and, from what I've read, this is pretty standard practise for Trek. I have nothing but praise for the way that Trek and Mike Vaughan Cycles, in particular Ray, have dealt with this. Added to that, Mike Vaughan only charged me £24 to completely disassemble and reassemble the bike, which is incredible value.

So I just wanted to share a story about excellent service as people usually seem happier to moan about bad service.

It's an absolutely beautiful bike. I just need to make a few tweaks to the riding position, make sure everything's tightened and adjusted correctly and take it out for a test!




Update (August 31st, 2014):
Not that I've had the chance to go for a proper ride - 60 miles including Clee Hill in Shropshire - I'm happy to report that the bike is incredible. It's comfortable and yet it also feels far more stiff than the original frame in terms of getting power to the wheels. My only tiny caveat is that I think I will change the integrated brakes for Shimano's own aero 6810 versions, which I've read give a lot more confidence!


Monday, 4 August 2014

Trek Madone carbon frame crack...

I've had my Trek Madone since 2008 (although it's a 2007 model, I bought it in the end of season sale). It's a bike that, once it was properly set up, has been an old friend and has done many thousands of miles, without complaint.

Even if my head might be turned occasionally by younger models, this is a bike I want to keep for years to come.


But when I was cleaning the bike thoroughly before taking it on holiday to Wales last week, I noticed a tiny crack in the carbon frame on the drive side.

My first reaction was a despairing sigh...

My Madone dates from a time when the carbon stays were joined to aluminium dropouts, which does seem to offer problems as the two materials are likely to expand and contract at different rates.

Anyway, I took the bike away and had some fantastic rides around where we were staying, near to Aberdovey.


But I was getting worried that if I didn't do something about the frame it might fail spectacularly. Carbon frames can be fixed, but it's not cheap and the results aren't pretty.

But then a hazy memory surfaced: I seemed to remember one of the appeals of the bike when I bought it was that it came with a frame warranty. Sure enough, I went on the Trek web site and the it's true - Trek offer a lifetime warranty for the frame to the original owner!


Having returned from holiday, I've been in touch with the bike shop I bought it from Mike Vaughan Cycles in Kenilworth and they confirmed that the warranty would apply, subject to Trek signing off the frame and me proving that I was the original owner.

That's where I may have a problem. The bike shop don't have a record of the sale from 2008 and I've just moved house and all these kinds of vital paperwork are filed away in a huge pile of boxes. So it looks like I've got some searching to do...



Update (August 12th, 2014):
I've now found the original receipt and the bike frame has been taken in to Mike Vaughan Cycles, so fingers crossed!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Cycling the First World War Western Front

Back in 2010, my brother James and I cycled the 550 miles from the French coast to Zurich in Switzerland in a week, roughly following the First World War western front, through Belgium, northern France and Switzerland.

We did the ride to raise money for Leukaemia Research in memory of our mum, Shirley, who died in 2009.

With the centenary of the start of the First World War, and as a number of people have contacted me for details of the route, I thought I would re-post the original route, diary and video entries.

I've done a number of longer rides, including Lands' End to John o'Groats, through Germany and the Czech Republic and from Birmingham to Montpelier in France and this definitely ranks among my favourite.

Swiss Roll - Day 1, James and Matthew at Dunkerque
Matthew and James leaving Dunkerque

Here's the route:


Bike route 322271 - powered by Bikemap


And here's a video I put together of the ride:



Here are the daily routes and diaries:

Day 1 - Dunkerque to Arras
Route details
Diary and video

Day 2 - Arras to Soissons
Route details
Diary and video

Day 3 - Soissons to Sainte-Menehould
Route details
Diary and video

Day 4 - Sainte-Menehould to Nancy
Route details
Diary and video

Day 5 - Nancy to Le Thillot
Route details
Diary and video

Day 6 - Le Thillot to Basel
Route details
Diary and video

Day 7 - Basel to Grafstal (Zurich)
Route details
Diary and video

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Terrifying head cam footage of cyclist's head-on crash with car!

A cyclist from Essex has uploaded an astonishing video taken on his helmet cam of his head on crash with a car. He then flies through the air and, incredibly, lands on his feet!



The cyclist, who doesn't give his real name, but goes by the username 'cyclejack' on YouTube, says on the video details:

"The second time I rode into London in an effort to gain some fitness, rather than take the train, ended like this.

"I was traveling around 22mph through Romford. Drizzly conditions so I was being cautious around bends and roundabouts. I didn't expect this!

"I broke (it can just be seen on the frame before impact) but I had no chance of stopping.

"I'm not quite sure how I wasn't seen. I'm over 6ft and was wearing a bright blue jacket. If I was seen then it's a very bad judgement in my speed.

"After a very uncomfortable trip to the hospital in a neck brace and spinal board and various x-rays I escaped with just bruising. So I consider myself lucky. At the time the driver was apologetic and was informed by the police that I was recording my ride and seemed to admit fault. But when it came to my insurance claim against her she disputed it. Safe to say the video has saved me a lot of hassle and 3 weeks later the cheque has already arrived from the insurance company.

"My 4 week old Giant bike was written off but thanks to the guys at Cycle Store they put me one of the two they had left aside and I'm looking forward to getting back out there.

"I will say the condition of the cycle lanes are a disgrace along that road, along with many I come across. With the usual obstacles of parked cars, drivers edging out of junctions, pot holes, glass, drains - why would you cycle in a cycle lane?"


Just to stress, the cyclist is doing absolutely nothing wrong in this crash.

It's also interesting to see the original footage, compared to what the Daily Mail uploaded. Firstly, you can hear him swearing as they crash (which I can definitely vouch for when I've had far less spectacular crashes!), but it does show how awful the cycling provision is and how poor others' driving is...

Monday, 30 June 2014

Bicycle: The Film

A new feature-lemngth documentary, 'Bicycle', is set to tell the "story of cycling in the land that invented the modern bicycle, it's birth, decline and re-birth from Victorian origins to today".

The film is directed by BAFTA winner Michael Clifford (who I got to know on a film-maing course he ran at MAC in Birmingham) and award-winning producer Pip Piper and features interviews with the likes of Sir Dave Brailsford, Gary Fisher, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting and Sir Chris Hoy.

Appropriately, the film is receiving it's world premiere in Bradford tomorrow to coincide with the  Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. It's then getting a limited release around the UK, details here.

I've not seen it yet, but having spoken to Michael and Pip about it and going by the trailer, it should be fantastic! I'm looking forward to seeing it in Birmingham.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gear Review: Polar RC3 GPS Training Computer

For anyone who doesn't own a GPS cycle computer I have one piece of advice: buy one immediately!

If you're someone, like I was, used to an old-fashioned 'cycle computer', running by cable or wirelessly from your front wheel, it may be time to wake up and smell the 21st Century cappuccino...


But which to buy? Today I'm looking at one of the latest examples - the Polar RC3 GPS - which promises 'unprecedented training accuracy and insight'. I've also asked my brother-in-law, Huw - a committed and extremely capable triathlete - to test the RC3 and add in his thoughts.

The three colourways available are shown above, but I've been lucky enough to get my hands on the eye-catching limited edition Tour de France 100th anniversary special edition. Lucky me!

Polar invented the wireless heart rate monitor back in the 80s, but this nifty little package combines monitoring your heart rate with a GPS to track your route, speed (current, maximum and average), distance (total, training and lap) and altitude, as well as a detailed breakdown of your level of effort. Once uploaded to Polar's own site or third party sites, such as Strava, it opens up a whole new level of monitoring.

And on top of that, it also promises the services of an expert trainer...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Health Facts About Cycling - Infographic

We all know that cycling is a great way to enjoy yourself and get from A to B, but I was really pleased to find this infographic highlighting just how healthy cycling is...


The stats come from an infographic created by Action Medical Research, a British medical research charity who run an extensive range of cycling events to help fund research into rare diseases affecting children. Find out more here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Incredible Bike Video

This video, shot on a helmet-mounted Go-Pro, of a downhill ride - including a backflip over a 72-foot canyon - is absolutely incredible.

Partly because it's beautifully shot, but also because the route is absolutely mental...!