Items of Use

A few items of gear and more that proved useful during the course of the year…

Baking tray
Want to copy the pros? Then eat a lot during big rides. Most of us can manage this, right? Only try this with bars and gels you’ve bought and it can make cycling expensive. You can make your own energy food at home. Mash ripe bananas and fold in some oats and you have a base. Now you can start to add whatever you like. Energy-mix powder? Sure for more carbs. Salts? Good for hot days. Nuts, seeds, dried fruit? Sure. Dried tomato, peanut butter… bacon? Whatever works, chuck it in, especially if it’s the sort of thing you’d not touch as a snack but weirdly crave when you’ve been on the bike for hours on a hot day and can’t touch an ordinary gel or bar. Spoon the sludge into a baking tray, slide in the oven and you’re set.
Now we need a drink. Here’s where comes in, literally “water-cycling”, a website to list points where you can refill your bidon, ideal when you’re out reconning Tour stages. People have written in with tips about taps out of sight to the passing cyclist; the one just behind the gate in the park, the one on the back of the water fountain. The problem is that it’s only for France, ideally there would be crowd-sourced maps for each country, a useful resource for cyclists but bound to help others and save on plastic bottles.

It’s not as fun as pouring over a 1:200,000 Michelin map and daydreaming, but online mapping is practical. You can trace the route for a ride of course but it’s the data that helps, things such as vertical gain help you know how much food to take and the predicted finish time is both useful… and a challenge. Where RideWithGPS wins is the choice of maps, there’s a drop-down menu for Google, Open Street Map, OSM Cycling and others and this helps you get a map that is suited to the country you’re in. Other websites can send you down farm tracks and forest trails when you wanted to stay on roads: fun if you like surprises; less when the suggested “road” is a rocky path for mountain biking and the sun’s going down. OpenRunner gets a mention too as a great alternative because it includes all the mountain passes in Europe.

Chain wax
I’m a convert to waxing chains. You clean your chain in a pot of solvent (you can reuse the solvent many times if you pour it through a coffee filter paper into a storage pot), dry it and then rinse the chain in alcohol to remove any last bits of dirt and grease. Then drop the dried chain in a pot of molten paraffin and after a short soak, fish it out, wipe off the wax, let it cool and put on your bike later. Have several chains with quick-links and you can do them as a batch. It’s said to save watts but that’s hard to tell. One benefit is immediate: your chain is silent. On a recon ride for a Giro stage with a fresh chain that morning I came across wild animals that would have normally run away from the sound of an approaching cyclist.

So far so good but it’s not for everyone. The solvent cleaning aspect takes time, you put the chain in in the pot, close the lid, shake and repeat… and repeat, and best done outdoors too; if you ride in the rain a lot it probably doesn’t last long. Think of it as an investment instead of a “hack” as time spent pays off. A dirty bike after a week? Just needs a rise and a wipe, gone are days of degreasing the whole drivetrain for each clean as the chainrings and cassette never get too filthy. Above all, having done this for two seasons now the benefit is in the wallet too. You can buy plain wax pellets from craft stores – for making candles apparently – for a cheap DIY brew, or there are mixes available at a premium too that promise further efficiency savings. Chainrings, cassettes and chains don’t need replacing as often and given the shortage of parts around too, enough said.

Direct Mount rim brakes
Disc brakes have their uses but I enjoyed summer on rim brakes. Too often it’s rim vs discs, understandable as you have to choose. But there’s still nuance in it, different set-ups suit different conditions and different people. So while there are bad calipers, a set of calipers on direct-mount fittings with the right pad-rim combo is great here. Lightweight, with controlled stopping power and easy to travel with, because if anything goes wrong it’s serviceable fixable with one allen key. Now if you’re discs evangelist, great…. and count yourself lucky as so much of the industry is going disc-only.

Out reconning Tour de France stages I came across a crew laying fresh tarmac. It often happens ahead of the grand tours, I saw the same before the Giro in April too. Only this time there was no option to turn back, nor any practical detour. Despite the road closure the workers were happy to let me pass but the fresh blacktop was hot and sticky enough rip the rubber from the casing on my tires (I remembered to ride through without stopping, a few years ago I came round a hairpin bend to find a Tour contender planting their white shoes into sticky bitumen). Phone calls to local bike shops said “non” for stock or size but turns out general sports retailer Decathlon had a store nearby and inside was a rack of waiting Michelin Power tires in 25mm, all while staff were fine for me to wheel my bike inside.

The Pyrenees
Arguably you can consume the Pyrenees as much as you can a brake caliper or an energy bar. Unarguably they are far more magnificent. Play word response and say “Pyrenees” and many cyclists might reply “Tourmalet.” It’s a giant climb but the ski resorts on each side drain some of the charm away. Anyway, Peter Cossins’s “A Cyclist’s Guide to The Pyrenees” was a good prompt to revisit some of the lesser-known climbs for holidays. One unsung part of the range is the terrain used for Stage 14 of the Tour, as won by Bauke Mollema, think of the city of Quillan as a base. Quiet backroads, medium-sized climbs and a semi-Mediterranean climate that makes it often reliable from May to October, and all a spin downhill from Andorra too. It’s just good riding because it is quiet, there’s not much else going on.

L’Equipe app
France has an annual “best butter croissant award” and chomping into one of these must be a fine way to start the day. But throughout the year chewing over the cycling stories in the newspaper by Alexandre Roos is just as exquisite, and with less cholesterol. They have an extensive staff of writers bringing more coverage, much of it via the app. Now a worry is that the paper is being pushed into cost-cutting measures and the cycling coverage gets lighter which would undermine the reason to subscribe. For now the bonus is that if you subscribe all the ads on the website go away. Obviously it’s all in French.

Eurosport Player app
There’s so much racing on TV these days. Eurosport, with its wealthy owners Discovery, has bought a lot of cycling rights. So you can use the app to watch racing anywhere, anytime, or as long as you can get a 4G signal. You can stop during a ride to catch a sprint, or slide into a coffee shop during a shopping trip to soak up a summit finish. The same goes for the GCN app, Eurosport’s cycling brand.

Another app. This one lets you point your phone’s camera at the horizon and tells you the names of any mountains in the distance. It’s handy because cyclists tend to the view the geography differently, we might look at the mountains and “see” the passes in between while ignoring the name of the actual mountains around. Who goes to base camp Everest’s base camp and has eyes for the South Col without knowing Lhotse from Everest? You can take a photo a day for free without subscribing.

Helmet pads
Got a helmet that’s beginning to feel old and tired? Buy some replacement pads and it’ll feel like new. Like fitting new bartape to your bike.

Note: all the items above are mine rather than freebies sent for review or a PR stunt. Except for the mention of Peter Cossins’ book where a PDF copy was supplied for review.

58 thoughts on “Items of Use”

  1. What a coincidence! I had banana fritters (banana, oats and egg mixed) for lunch today and managed to get up the Col d’Eze a couple of minutes faster than last week. Nothing exceptional, but better than the usual afternoon lethargy. What a pity they’ve installed speed humps just above the Plateau de St Michel, I reckon the mayor of Eze must live nearby!
    Thank you for the other tips, and thank you for consistently excellent blogging all year. Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2022 to everyone here!

  2. “understandable as you have to ch[o]ose” … “count yourself lucky as so much of the industry is going disc-only”. If only it was an actual choice! The industry is pushing hard and so many beginners who are not motivated or knowledgeable enough to look for the option which eventually suits them better… don’t even have a choice because bike will come with discs, full stop. Is bike industry actually offering worse bikes than a few years ago? 😛

    The above “cho[o]se” prompted me to add a little bonus edit:
    – is [a] rocky path
    – sticky enough [to] rip
    – happy to bring my bike inside for me
    – they [are] far more magnificent
    – Who’s go[ing] to base camp

    • Thanks and I didn’t mind the arrival of discs but I’m beginning to lament the lack of choice now. I enjoyed a summer on rim brakes but enjoying more gets harder. But we’ll see, just as direct mounts were an improvement for rim brakes, disc brakes are improving and in a few years’ time they could be fantastic rather than, like rim brakes, having a pro vs con list.

      • For now, discs are still a con when it comes to racing. Why would we want to see a rider lose a good position because a simple wheel change is no longer an option?

    • @Gabriele, are you (like me) getting to the age where run-of-the-mill spelling and grammar errors on the internet seriously annoy you? 😀
      Saying that, I like these little faux pas on Inner Ring, I’ve always thought of the blog as a more intellectual, cycling-equivalent of Sniffing Glue, the famous Punk fanzine of that era 🤣🎄

  3. I’m a convert, too. Four chains at a time, it does take some time but not too much actual work. I add a little paraffin oil to the paraffin wax and use a slow cooker for melting it and soaking the chain. Before rewaxing I just soak the chain in boiling hot water.
    Since I’m rather lazy and not too keen on bike maintenance I usually wipe the chain clean after perhaps 300 km and add some wax lubricant. I suppose Squirt, Holmenkol or any other would do as or almost as well, but I’ve found Rex Domestique works best for me and gives me in normal road conditions, including a bit of rain and gravel but no veritable mud festivals, another 300 km before I must rewax the chain.

    A me, too also for helmet pads. There are riders who seem to think helmets go bad if you wash them, but clean straps are nice – and new pads make an old helmet feel new.

    And yes, rim brakes! I guess I’m like an old dog, too old to learn new tricks, at least if the reward isn’t sufficient. I have a bike with hydraulic disc brakes, but while I must admit it is a nice idea that you are not wearing out your rims in a season of riding in wet gravel, mud and dirty snow or slush, disc brakes also mean too many new nuisances, the pads rub, the discs squeal – and the simple and easy tricks that everyone told me would fix such “minor issues” somehow don’t seem to work and so there’s poor me feeling a bit embarrassed and looking stupid – again! – as I explain what’s wrong to my trusted bike mechanic…

    Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and/or Season’s Greetings to everyone!

    • Discs are great for slush, gravel etc, both for saving the rim and the “closed” system if it’s hydraulic. By all means keep your mechanic in a job (and beer) but there are so many guides online now, tutorials on youtube that you can learn jobs without having to go on a course, nor by breaking things at home.

      • Also, a lot of relatively expensive gravel / road bikes still come with cable disc brakes, which in my experience are still inferior to Ultegra / Force / Veloce rim equivalents. They also need constant adjustment for some reason.

        Hydraulic disc brakes are way better but there’s a price increase to match and I doubt many newbie riders will make that investment.

    • Eskerrik Asko – you left a question for me on the previous topic which Mr. Inrng (wisely) has now closed. If you want an answer email me directly: cycleitalia1 on the email system. That way we can stop annoying the rest here with an endless debate 🙂
      As to disc brakes, the idea seems great in theory but every time someone’s disc brakes fail under nasty conditions I ask what happened to the advantages of getting the caliper and disk out of the nasty elements at ground level? Sure, your rims won’t wear out, but they won’t wear out if you stop using the “Fred Flintstone” method either…something that seems more common with discs rather than old-time rim brakes.

      • I know nothing about bikes, but I don’t remember ever seeing a race where rim brakes stopped working. And, in the same race, Moscon must have wished that Ineos hadn’t changed to discs – who knows what might have happened if he’d had a quicker change.

        • “I don’t remember ever seeing a race where rim brakes stopped working. ”
          I do but it can’t be blamed on the brakes as it was the terrible braking surface provided by the carbon wheels “Kaiser Jan” was using. I think it was the TdF and maybe a descent before or after the Col du Madeleine, the poor guy overshot every hairpin bend it seemed, while losing ever more ground to his rivals. I believe those issues led directly to the adoption of disk brakes from the world of MTB – a case of a fix to a problem caused by an “improvement” sort of like thru-axles, which “fixed” the problem caused by disc brakes when they caused the front wheel to try to exit the fork dropouts. Now you have the team guys jumping outta the car with another electric driver to spin out the thru-axles or another fix, the “Screw that, we’ll just replace the whole bike!” in the event of a flat tire. Progress or just marketing-maven driven change?

  4. Food? Wish I could find that story of Marco Pantani and his “ride food”. He’d ride up some climb in Romagna and stop at a place that made the best tortellini in Italy, which meant the best in the world, as Emilia-Romagna for sure makes the best egg-pasta on this planet. He’d have his in brodo and if he’d ridden a long way to get there, have two bowls!
    I’d guess the chain-waxing “cult” has existed since there were chains? Never have understood what all the cult members go on about as my personal stuff along with our rental fleet does just fine with a regular wash of the drivetrain with about 15 ml of solvent per bike followed by soapy water. Oil (FinishLine green or plain ol’ 75/90 w synthetic automotive transmission oil) lubes things in-between on cheap-to-replace KMC chains that get tossed long before they have a chance to wear cogs or chainrings,
    Same for brakes, Campagnolo rim-brake pads seen to last forever, I change those so infrequently I have trouble remembering which ones fit which calipers!
    Helmets go bad when washed? How ’bout when you sweat in ’em? Bring yours into the shower with a brush and use the same shower gel you wash yourself up with and the thing will last long after you’ve decided you want the newest-latest-lightest model.
    Finally – Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and/or Season’s Greetings to everyone!

    • I’ve heard the Pantani story… but sometimes it’s piadine, other times its melon? Maybe he did all three and the meal changed by season.

      It’s good to wash a bike helmet but eventually the pads just begin to feel worn and thin. New ones feel twice as good (and help if you can’t get a helmet because of the supply shortages in the industry).

      • How do you get a new pad set for your crash-hat if supply-chain issues prevent you getting a new crash-hat? Makes me wonder why all the online cycling retailers are wasting time sending me constant email come-ons to buy stuff if they don’t have anything to sell? I admit to stocking-up on things I use-up (tires, tubes, chains, etc.) so I have yet to run into issues there but I get sales promotions for bikes, wheels, clothing, crash-hats, etc. in my email in-box almost every day.
        As I wrote, the chain wax thing escapes me, I guess it’s one of those ritual kind of things like pumping up tires before every ride? I’ve lost count of the times someone has started in on a lecture/description on their chain waxing religion…the only thing that comes close is right-wing Christian evangelism in my experience. With both I say, “OK, enjoy yourself, but please leave me out of it!”

        • Some of us have learned, either at an early age or later, the hard way after some knocks that not all things that escape us belong to the category of downright silly things or things that must be a part of some zany ritual practised that conceivably only by members of some cult can see the point of or things that only those who wish to imitate pros or the major dudes in the group of cyclists they are desperately trying to fit in 🙂
          FWIW I know plenty of cyclists who have moved away from chain cleaners, solvents and oils to wax, but I don’t any who preach about it or boast about being ahead of or somehow above those who still etc.
          Waxing for me simply means less hassle, less work, less chemicals, a nicer cleaner and a more silent chain in all road circumstances, not just on dry asphalt in sunny Italy 🙂 Possibly, just possibly I also get the additional benefits of slightly smaller cost, slightly less wear and slightly as in imperceptively less friction = more speed out of my old legs.

          I suppose I must confess to belonging to the cult of latex as well – and therefore being one of those fools who pump up their tires before every ride. Believe or not, doing so doesn’t make me feel like I’m a better cyclist 🙂 It is simply that I’ve found latex tubes give me a ride that at least feels more comfortable, the tires seem or give the issue of rolling better and, last but not least, they give me more kilometers between punctures than butyl – and this is a fact I can back up with statistics of my own rides.
          PS I am stuck in my old ways, though, in some respects: I still don’t have a road bike that I could fit with tires wider than 25 mm and I don’t have a gravel bike, just a cyclo-cross bike that gets misused as a winter and a gravel bike. OTOH although the tires aren’t wider than 35 mm, I’ve given in to modern fashion and ride tubeless 🙂

          • Didn’t intend to be another anonymous 🙁

            PS Most of the helmets I’ve bought came with a spare set of pads. They also seem to be an item that a LBS that sells the brand usually has in its stock even when the model has been discontinued.

          • “Believers” are just that. And they have rituals that pagans like me can’t understand. You hear about a lot of ’em over the decades in the bike retail and bike tour biz and now online as well. As I wrote above, it’s all fine as long as they leave me out of their proselytizing.
            As they say here: (where thank gawd we don’t have those magpies!)
            Buone Feste e Felice Anno Nuovo!

      • I,m afraid that anyone living where i am is destined to have poor cosmetic condition helmets even if they feel new.
        After a single magpie season my helmets start to get copious amounts of scratches and peck marks. Its amazing how deep into the foam between the plastic they get those beaks.
        If you don’t know what an Australian magpie is look it up on youtube.

        • The story I remember was about tortellini in brodo, something you sit down at a table and enjoy vs wolfing down a bar of some sort or even a piadina which is after all, a fast-food item.
          For me the beauty of the Pirate’s story was the stopping and sitting down, something other pros have written about as well. There was a Chris Horner one about his panino in the team bus ‘fridge vs a bar in his pocket that I liked as well and retold often to our tour clients to whom this seemed a very foreign idea.
          The first day on the road, we’d get some sideways glances at our insisting on a stop for a proper lunch vs energy bars as if we were racing, but two or three days into the tour morning conversations on the bike often turned to discussions of where and what we’d enjoy for that day’s pranzo. Even a simple plate of spaghetti pomodoro (at least in Italy) makes anything in a mylar wrapper seem like a last-resort to be eaten only under duress as Horner’s story described so well, even though his alternative was only a panino out of the team bus’ fridge 🙂

          • Had a lot of not so good pasta in Italy / Emilia – Romagna, even bad ragu in Bologna itself. But always enjoyed the great food in Apennine foothills, particularly in inconspicious (and often surprisingly expensive – for the look and furniture of the place, and general – so enjoyable – lack of haute-cuisine hypocrisy) trattorie etc. of forgotten towns and hamlets there. The best ragu bolognese (which I profounfly love) I ever tasted was served in a small town under the iconic Pietra di Bismantova… if I was Pantani, I would certainly enjoy some tortellini in brodo somewhere in those hills. So different to tourist traps of overcrowded italian highlights…

  5. A couple of things i have found in recent times related to what you mentioned above.

    In a new to yourself country area and don’t know where to ride. Load up strava and have a look at the strava segments. See which ones have lots of riders and appear to be back roads.

    Chain lube. After watching a Chris Horner washing his bike episode on youtube i became a convert to wax lubes (in a bottle). Now obviously they are more than wax because it comes from a bottle. I have been amazed at how much cleaner my chain is compared to normal lube. It hardly attracts any dirt or grime. Just clean off with detergent and water next time you clean the bike, let it dry and reapply. No nasty black grime, no nasty degreaser.

    • Just seen this after commenting about Strava heatmaps below. Using heatmaps/segments is good advice but, referring back to France and, I think, Spain – they are big countries and, away from the tourist areas, most local riders live in the major towns and large areas of the rural countryside is tumbleweed. Which is great for riding, but not so good for planning long cross country routes.

  6. Decathlon is a great tip for new cyclists. It’s an expensive sport nowadays and their base layers / wind jackets / jerseys etc must be a quarter of the price of prestige brands but it’s good quality.

    • We’ll see if they move more into cycling although the elite end isn’t something they need to appeal to. They’re from the north of France and the Cofidis team is too and the two are linking up. They’re now a big retailer across Europe so we’ll see if their bikes appear next. Was a nice surprise to see the range of spares and things inside, a kids bike here, tires you can race on there, and all while online suppliers had shortages.

  7. Interesting that you mention chain waxing as I want to give it a go. Financial circumstances have meant that investing in a separate set of cookers etc makes it something I haven’t got around too. My wife is unlikely to appreciate me liquifying wax in the pressure cooker we already have.

    • Crock Pots are popular in thrift stores in the US. I bought a new one at the local hypermarket for $15. As someone else mentioned, drip waxes are available for topping up lubrication between services.

  8. Chain wax?
    I use exclusively Diesel. Works wonderful. Two, three times a year I clean the chain in a glas filled with Diesel over two days or so. Shake it a couple of times. Dry it with a cloth. After that you need to lube it. That is the only time.

  9. Is Quillan as good a base for the Pyrennes as st Jean de Maurienne is for the Alps?

    Went to the latter having read a lot of the roads to ride pages on here. Ok the town isn’t much to write about and the valley road isn’t that nice, but in terms of being onto great climbs straight from your door and access to more famous routes it’s fantastic. Looking for somewhere similar, but different, was thinking Bormio but I get the sense of it being very busy with motorcyclists.

    • I wouldn’t rule out Bormio because of motos, but consider if you want to climb Passo Stelvio or Gavia you’re going to be riding them in the “wrong” way compared to their traditional directions in most editions of the Giro. BUT you can ride down the valley and up the Passo Mortirolo in the “correct” way and continue over the Passo Gavia, again in the “correct” direction, but it’s a big, big day of riding. If you do it, try to have some lunch just over the top of Mortirolo if the little hotel/ristorante there is open (take it easy on the vino since the descent is tricky) but that way you’ll have plenty of digestion time before the slog up the Adamello valley and on to the Gavia. You can also do an up and back on Bormio 2000 where La Corsa Rosa stages have finished a time or two. Food and wine in Bormio is excellent – try Bresaola, Schiatt valtellina and pizzoccheri along with a glass (or three) of Grumello, Sassello or Inferno DOC. Go home with some excellent dried mushrooms to go with your cycling memories.

    • Quillan’s another place without much to write about, you’d for the riding rather than bring family or non-cycling friends along. But you can ride in all directions (often not so easy in the Pyrenees where it’s often east-west) although the main north/south road up the Aude can be busy, but it’s also very scenic with the gorges etc rather than factories and the autoroute. Unlike the Maurienne, you have a lot of choices, with so many small cols, the terrain is very different with lots of small roads and valleys, but a lot less altitude, it’s rare to get above 1,500m. Tarason across to the west brings you nearer the bigger climbs.

  10. A tip to anyone who wants to try chain waxing but struggles to find a suitable slow cooker: beautician-style wax pots for home use are smaller, often cost less and are designed to melt wax efficiently.

  11. Probably just personal, but I find the routing on Strava much better than Ride with GPS, especially if you use the heatmap.

    However the heatmap gives you “features” that you might not realise in foreign lands. So I tried plotting routes for a cross-France trip, but it seems that the take up of Strava by “ordinary” club riders is quite low. Most users would appear to be racers or tourists. This means that in some areas the heatmap is dominated by major roads (racers) and canal towpaths (tourists), neither of which is my idea of fun.

    But then you turn off the heatmap and end up getting routed along hilly vineyard gravel roads, which is suboptimal with panniers on 25mm road tyres.

    • That’s the thing with Strava, the map can route you on dirt tracks thinking it’s a road, now if you’re in a country where it doesn’t do this, it’s fine. But RideWithGPS lets you choose the maps and you can get one that suits the country you’re riding in; although this isn’t obvious to start with.

      The heatmap function is great… but it’s mixed. I’ve likened it before to visiting a place known for gourmet food but the heatmap shows where the McDonalds is because that’s where the most amount of people go most often, when visitors are really visiting for the local dish, so it helps but it’s not everything.

  12. Again – great write up!

    Note on the pads: I wash my pads regularly, but they usually last longer than a helmet which is supposed to be changed every 3 years. Not sure if there is actual science behind it or it is a marketing trick, but I would rather be safe than sorry.

    Merry Christmas!

      • Larry, beware tonight for on the 12th chime of the clock at midnight, three spirits will visit you in turn; The Spirit of Cycling Past, The Spirit of Cycling As is and, most terrible of all, The Spirit of Cycling Future. Heed the words Larry and mark thee well. 🎄

        • Happy Holidays to you as well! None of that bothers me 🙂 What does is the “Spirit of Cycling’s Marketing-Mavens” who work so hard convincing people to toss out perfectly good stuff and buy ever more newest-latest crap only because they make a profit from it.
          You know – the entire “You are what you buy!” “branding” fake backstory BS consumerist industry. I was in bike retail before it really kicked off when marketing-mavens adopted the “model year” planned obsolescence idea from the automotive industry. Before that a new bike, component or whatever came out when it was an improvement on what was current rather than just repainted, etc.

  13. Get a cheap ultrasound cleaner. A bit of solvent and your chain is like new….saves a lot of hassle….Then wax it. Good on cassettes as well.

    Get bonus points from your partner as it will clean their jewellery to a brilliance that it had when you bought it for them.

  14. Great idea of the baking tray Mr. Ring!

    Solid solid idea. Cycling is expensive enough without adding 20-30$ worth of snacks during a ride! And, it’s easy to do in the evening while cleaning up after dinner once the kids are in bed.

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays, thanks for another great year of articles Inrng! This remains the most interesting site on the interweb.

  15. So direct mount rim brakes mean, essentially, a new bike? Or at least a new fork and a new frame?
    Hmmm… I knew there was a reason I needed a new bike.

    My best bit of “gear” this year was a new diet after a scary-bad blood test. It’s been like taking the panniers off! (If you are ever trying to control your cravings, just visualize a) a heart attack and b) riding up your favourite hard hill without those saddlebags. It’s inspiring.)

    Happy Holidays people!

  16. For other mountains and geography connoisseurs and perhaps fellow photographers… a good alternative to PeakVisor is the Peakfinder app. It works without data connection (which PeakVisor don’t, iirc) and it also projects the position of the Sun and Moon at a given date and time.

  17. I have had a carbon belt drive for seven or so years now and would find it very difficult to go back to a chain now.
    The other change that I have made more recently is from skinny tyres to 40 mm Shwalbe Land Cruiser tyres. No more punctures, more confidence on corners and only 50 psi. If my rides take me any longer I haven’t noticed.

  18. “If my rides take me any longer I haven’t noticed.” I’ll second that! I’ve done a few all-asphalt rides on this bike when the roads have been just too sloppy to take out my nice road bike and the other day found myself keeping pace with a guy on a newest-latest-plastic-fantastic with electronic shifting and slab-sided aero wheels. And it wasn’t because I was younger or more fit 🙂

    • Back in the day when I was younger and more fit it used to happen that a cyclist would follow me after I had overtaken him or that a cyclist would proceed to catch and outpace me. I thought it amusing, that’s all. I rode my own pace if it was an easy day, a long ride or just doing some mileage after uphill or tempo efforts.

      But, yes I too must admit that I now find it difficult to believe that we all thought riding on 25 mm tires was tantamount to going soft or admitting that you are not a serious road cyclist but just a fat middle-aged man!

      • Hey, I WAS a middle-age fat man…now I’m an old-fart who normally doesn’t bother with silly things like chasing a guy who passes, but when he’s on a newest-latest and I’m slogging along on an ancient 26″ wheeled, V-braked, MTB with drop bars butchered on, IT’S ON! Or was, until I realized that he wasn’t going any faster than I was despite all the newest-latest technology. That’s the one thing that sets cycling apart and why it appeals to me…(if you discount doping) you can buy everything you need to be just like the winner of LeTour…except the legs. As long as you still have to pedal the things how much money you have (or don’t) doesn’t determine how fast you go or how much fun you have 🙂

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