Le Tour

We went to watch the Prologue of The Tour yesterday. Main recollections:

  • These guys go fast even when they’re warming up
  • They corner faster then I’d dare
  • They don’t seem to be going that fast, but then you notice how fast the chase car is going
  • Did I mention fast yet?
  • I would fall of a bike in 3 seconds if I tried to get in the streamlined position they do
  • I love Americans, but it seems their tour operators only allow the irritating ones to visit London
  • Half a million people watching makes it hard to get a good view
  • Jumbotrons are cool
  • £5 is too much to pay for a hamburger or hot dog from a stall, even if it’s a good one
  • One of the worst jobs in London is that of the guys who patrol the Diana Memorial telling children not to have fun (you can sit with your feet in the water, but not paddle in it)
  • Whoever designed a water feature that clearly intended to be paddled in by children was a moron
  • Whoever decided that it couldn’t be paddled in seems to have forgotten the interests of the person it’s dedicated to

Going to see the rolling start of stage 1 today.

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Involuntary interval training

I promised a report on my experience so far with my new single speed bike, and I’m sure you’ve had a restless night waiting for an update. Well the short answer is it’s fun, but it hurts.

Having a single gear simplifies things greatly. There’s no decision for what gear would best suit the upcoming hill, or whether you’re at optimum cadence. If you want to go faster you pedal faster. If you want to go up a hill you pedal harder and maybe stand up. And if you can’t keep up with the pedals downhill then you coast. The result of this is that each ride is a freeform interval training session (or fartlek, if you like rude-sounding words). I’m particularly bad at interval training on normal bikes – however much I try I end up at my normal pace – but this forces the issue because the only alternative is to walk.

On the upside the simplified drive train means I can climb in a harder gear than on my road bike, even though the Raleigh probably weighs 50% more (if still only a fraction of my own lardy mass). And there’s something very liberating about just pedaling that makes it strangely appealing. Hard to define, but worth a try if you can pick up something cheap.

Tomorrow: Third-rate sarcasm about health care (probably).

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Single Speed

I recently invested a whopping £13 British Pounds (approx. $26 US, or $4,000 Canadian) on eBay to download the following beauty:

Single Speed

A rocking single speed conversion of a ‘Raleigh Marauder’. You might guess from the name that this isn’t a quality frame, but it’s got rear dropouts long enough to run a single speed, and someone has already done the hard work to convert it, so I’m happy.

So far I’ve changed out the seatpost (£8 from eBay) and brakes/levers (£14, plus another £7 for ancillary bits). The new seatposts let me use an old saddle from my road bike. I’ve also got some new bearings for the bottom bracket, and a can of seriously bright yellow spray paint to cover up a few bits of rust. I’ll post more progress on it soon, but tomorrow I’ll let you know what it’s like to ride.

And for those still reading – Yes, I do want to be like Nick 😉

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