Taking Pictures of Your Bike

Taking Pictures of Your Bike

I saw this post this morning on the FB Group – and realised that I was reading things I had read before  – as with so many things – there are clearly a set of unwritten rules regarding ‘Photographing Your Bike’.

Nice backdrop, but the bike, oh the bike. It’s all wrong. You need to take a leaf out of Mark‘s composition book. Big ring, always take the picture in the “Big Dawg”. Cranks, vertical. Use your iPhone to level if necessary. Tyres! You’re letting us down, they are not lined up. Get them logos aligned to the valves. Whilst you’re at it line the wheel logos up for the photo too. At least your bottles are matching. Saddle bag? What’s that all about?

— Darren Wareing

Let us assume you have the perfect day, the perfect vista, lite, lets pull this apart lets address these points top down – stuff sun behind you, no shadows in the frame and the Thirds Rule – this is important:

Chainset – Big Ring and mid cassette – nothing too cross chained;

Cranks – vertical. Always;

Tyres – Logo to valve, symmetric in image (rule #40);

Beverages – cages and bottles matching;

Saddle bag – seriously consider are you *that* rider (rule #29).

The summer is almost upon us… for heavens sake, lets not waste any of that blue sky and glorious long bright days with shoddy images people! Happy Snapping.

Mudguards : Playing nice with others.

Mudguards : Playing nice with others.

Mudguards – they can be a bit of a pain. Thankfully this year there have been no real need to fall out with anyone over a mouthful of the old Belgian Toothpaste in a Hell of the North style. More luck than judgment really.

So with this in mind – and for those still riding without protection – don’t risk losing friends – here are some fine words of experience that I thought were worth sharing for those who do not have frame mounts, clearance, or willing to go down to the P clip route.

“That’s one quick way to trash a bikes’ components. To be fair the roads we cycle this time of year get really dirty there will be lots of salt too soon. Not good. The best combination I’ve found for a road bike without eyelets are race blade long with a rear (front section of rear only) from a crud MK2. The race blades otherwise throw all the road grime onto the drive train and front mech. Expensive buying two sets but cheaper than chains, cassettes and cranksets I found this through trial and error having bought the cruds first and then giving up on them. I then bought the race blades and suffered the grime being poured onto my crank and front mech. It’s worse than having no mudguards as it funnels it nicely so I made the crud part fit onto the race blade bracket and all was good. Just have to zip tie the race blades onto their brackets too as they fall off. Two heavy winter riding seasons so far out of that set up. Yes I’ve had to renew components but not as often as I would have had to with the grinding paste.”

— Darren.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Set up properly there will be no rubbing, no rattling ideally;
  • Your bike will need cleaning less;
  • Parts will last longer – yeah – I know – why would you not;
  • Your feet will stay drier and therefore warmer;
  • Your backside will stay cleaner and more importantly drier, this makes your world nicer;
  • The people behind you are not cursing under their breath;
  • The impact on the bike is not the same as adding parachutes, an anchor and panniers;
  • The effect in side winds is not going to be noticeable as deep section rims.

Generally speaking – the world will be a nicer place for you – your bike – and those behind you.



Foam & Plastic

Foam & Plastic

It’s one of those topics that seems to stir up a large amount of emmotion and debate: Cycling Helmets. You either do or you do not – it is your choice – you may even make that choice on a whim each day… however… with a man down and recovering from a serious injury at a low speed – I am only too happy to share his thoughts on the matter as he rests up. Sure the stories of the great saves are going to outnumber those of the silent minority – but if you have a picture – aledgedly worth a thousand words – to share from your experience – please do send it over to webmaster@vcmelyd.co.uk*.

I couldn’t sleep last night and Alan had suggested I write something for the website about how my helmet (possibly) saved me.

Pros and cons of wearing a helmet, I wanted to write a paragraph or so on why you should wear a helmet, inspired by my recent cycle accident and the trauma doctors statement that I would have been in deep shit (apparently a medical condition of great gravity) if I hadn’t worn my helmet.

Considering he already knew I had broken my spine, ribs and cheek bone I can only surmise that deep shit would be death or brain injury.

But you really can’t write anything without an objective view (still going to keep it brief though). So what are the risks of wearing a helmet?

There seem to be 3 main arguments for not wearing a helmet.

No. 1 is that if we make cycle helmets mandatory less people will cycle which reduces puplic health more than the risks associated with not wearing a helmet;

No. 2 is that motorists give less room to cyclists who wear helmets compared to those who do;

No. 3 is that in some circumstances because of the thickness or shape of the helmet what may have been a glancing blow to the head may have more impact, or place an increased torsional load on the neck.

I actually only needed to read one statistic to confirm wearing a helmet was a good idea and that was you are 80% less likely to have a serious head injury in a low speed Impact if you wear a helmet [source required]. It seems the main reason for not wearing a helmet is motorists perception and vanity would cause a reduction in the number of cyclist on road and public health would drop, all I can say is that I look a hell of a lot better for wearing a helmet and in this circumstance I will consider myself and not society as a whole (I am so selfish) “We all make mistakes, don’t compound the mistake by not wearing a helmet” [Jerry Springer 1991]

— Lord Gary

*I am not looking to start off some great lengthy debate over it all – just some personal insights.

Getting back in the saddle

Getting back in the saddle

Getting back on the bike is not always the easiest of things. What once you took in your stride, is kinda painful. Warey of looking a little “all the gear no idea”… whatever the reason, there are a million reasons to just continue the pattern – no matter how much you want to just get back out there again. If you are looking for that extra encouragement to get back out there… here are the thoughts of Sam – returning to riding after 18 months, and heading out on that traditionally shorter faster Tuesday night ride:

So after around 18 months not riding at all due to work and study pressures I finally made my comeback on Tuesday 20th May. Having worried about the looming ride all afternoon it was soon 6pm and time to get the kit on, if it would still fit, and get on the bike. Immediately after leaving home I met Steve Sharp who had announced my return on our Facebook page along with the promise of a kind route! I was hoping this would be the case!

We made our way to Saints as the rain which had held off all day, decided to pour down….a great start I thought. Once at Saints I saw the familiar collection of faces and VC Meyld shirts as well as plenty of new members as well. At just after half six we were off and heading back towards Rhuddlan in the still persistent rain. From here we enjoyed a 36 mile route which took in Tremerchion, Bodfari, Llandyrnog and Denbigh. I had forgotten how quickly the miles rack up and amongst the banter and general chit chat we breezed through to the 25 mile mark….by which time my legs were starting to ache….a helping shove from Alan however saw me back to St Asaph where myself and Steve parted company with the club for a gentle trot back to Rhuddlan.

I had been apprehensive about returning but any fears and reservations were soon parked and when I was slower up the hills everyone had waited at the top while I got my breath before we set off again. The following Sunday I rode another 35 miles and am now looking forward to this Tuesdays ride as well.

So whether you are experienced rider or new our club welcomes all and no one has to worry about being left behind. I really think that the benefits of riding with the club again will improve my fitness much more quickly as well.

So for those who have been unsure, come along and give it a go!

— Sam Evans

Heading out on your first club ride.

For those wondering whether to take that jump and head out on a club ride – here is a posting from over on the FB group from one of our newer lady members heading out on her first Tuesday night ride.

I would like to encourage all you lady cyclists who are feeling a bit nervous about going on a club ride to have a go. I did my first club ride this week, joining a group of 20+ VC Melyd riders and I enjoyed every minute of it.There is no need to worry about not being good enough or being too slow as there will always be someone who will ride with you at your pace. Everyone has to start somewhere and you will learn so much by riding in a group. Go for it!
PS VC Melyd Cycling Club are a wonderful group of people.

— Linda Carruthers

Last Tuesday night Road Ride of 2013

Last Tuesday night Road Ride of 2013

What is the right thing to do when it’s 1C out? That’s right – knock almost 4 mins off a Strava segment you ride almost daily, set your lungs on fire and enjoy the company of good people while failing to meet the requirement of “smart casual” by a country mile. Here is to cycling, inebriation, and achievement: 2014 is going to be a corker.

A good turn out for a Tuesday night – specifically one where the skies had cleared, the wind had dropped, and a full moon cast a palid shade on anything not alight under headlamps and red strobes – it generally had proper cold written all over it in a heavy set bold font. This it delivered by the bucket load.

Only two flats, at Pengwern Hall, and the Glascoed Road turn was a blessing of sorts – especially given the burning lungs from storming pace set up the Abergele Road – a welcome break if anything.

It had been a fair few years since I last headed out on a weeknight club ride – and had forgotten what it was like. The short ride, the elevated tempo, the dancing shadows, the general glow, continually mistaking clubmates as cars… and the judging how far behind the rider chasing you was by the shadows you cast. It was a night for burning lungs, and then a rolling cold descent down to the Plough for a brief yet welcome huddle around the table – recovery drinks of choice in hand, talking about bikes, holidays, and stuff.

Thankfully no one was tempted to make off with a bike with silly pedals on a night where cycle computers were registering 1C descending into St Asaph…. and my initial concerns over the sign outside stating smart and casual dispelled as we walked past a group where matching ill fitting football shorts…. it was in fact a damn fine evening out – and a credit to Steve Sharp – who devised and organised. For those who made the special effort to be there thank you also, and those who didn’t – look at what you could have won. We few – we merry few – we band of [sisters|brothers]…. (etc.).

So – the 27th – who is with us?

The Race of Truth

VC Melyd & Rhyl CC share a time trial series – here are a few words posted to the Time Trial Results FB page on The Race of Truth. There are some people who will never get it… in the same way the idea of purposely hunting out unleven roads feels for me… for those who are undecided – here is an insight into the D1/9 from the mind of a tester. Thanks Tim.

The race of truth: A bicycle time trial.

They call my number. Riders set off at one minute intervals. Now it is my turn.

My mouth is dry apart from the remnants of the sickly-sweet tasting energy gel. I wheel my bike slowly to the start line.

At thirty seconds the ‘pusher-off’ holds my bike upright allowing me to clip into both pedals. Deep gulps of air and final adjustments: skin-suit straightened, feet-twisted to ensure they’re firmly locked into the pedals, glasses pushed back. Ready.

Heart monitor shows 85 beats.

Five, four, three, two, press computer start button, one. ‘Good ride Tim’.

Explosive start. Pedals forced forward with all the power I possess. Bike becomes fantastically alert. In an instant heart at 160 beats.

Within three hundred yards approach the brow of the first descent. Steady. Reaching forward on the tri-bars the pace becomes frightening. The wind whistles against my aero – tear-drop – helmet.

The roads levels out. A flat section demands perfect rhythm. The pressure in my legs and chest is intense; I edge back from the brink and manage the pain in the nick of time.

Finding the best line to void bumps and holes in the road; using well known markers on the course to gauge progress. This is called technique.

Then comes the Wall: the most challenging part of the course. Make or break. The Wall defines the race. Pre race tactics abandoned as nausea sets in. The false peak of the hill is horribly deceitful. Rhythm lost.

Recovery is slow. The Wall is replaced by a long gradual assent to the foot of the mountains. Stunning views are merely a blur set again the agony of extreme effort. If I quit it will be now.

Heart rate constant at around 180 beats.

Rhythm and a decent pace return. A sharp descent into small village demands courage. Who dares wins, sometimes. Legs press hard against the frame; elbows tucked in. Head down. As small as I can be. After all cycling forward is all about moving air.

Passing and being passed by others in the race brings dejection and motivation in equal measure. Yet to show emotion would be bad form; dig deep.

Hills behind me and a final five miles of undulating road to the finish. Constant glancing at the small computer allows mental arithmetic to temporarily distract from the physical effort. Target setting keeps me focused; only time trialists will know.

The final mile along a by-pass with a near perfect road surface. A friendly tail-wind too. An exhilarating pace without effort; body numb. Happiness beyond description. Better than sex.

A small huddle of fluorescent jackets mark the end. Final sprint for show. Shouting my number to ensure an accurate time. PB on the results sheet is short-hand for personal best. PBs are collected like rare antiques. Time trialists know their PBs better than the dates of close family birthdays. Test them.

Slumped on the handle-bars, freewheeling to the race HQ. Exhausted but in a very good way, tales of the race exchanged. Tactics up the Wall compared. Novices soak it up.

Results read out amidst genuine mutual respect; comrades in the race of truth.

Consensus is reached: It was indeed a good night.

Tim Erasmus, Rhyl CC.

100 greatest cycling climbs

You may or may not be aware – however there is a list – in fact I think technically speaking there are two lists*. In terms of North Wales cycling climbs within the top 100 you have plenty to choose from.

The nice people at cyclinguphill.com have compiled a list of 100 Greatest Climbs, and Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.

For those  who want to narrow this noise down a little to a tick list – Britain’s Top 10 Toughest Cycle Climbs from the Guardian – Hardknott and Wrynose old news to those on the Fred Whitton Challenge, and Bwlch y Groes from such wonders as the Bala Devil and the Wild Wales Challenge events.

Now – it is unlikely to have escaped your attention, that living where we do that we have a lot of hills here. It is not really a surprise given that we are based on the end of the Clywdian Range, and being not all that far from the Snowdonia National Park. Going uphill is not something that is easily avoided.

So here is a list of the locals of note – you may wish to look them up on Strava, or maybe even go hunt them out:

Top 100

#86. The Shelf – 262m – 5 to 15% – 5.1km

#87. Moel Arthur – 220m – 10 to 20% – 2.2km

#88. Penbarra (Bwlch Pen barras / Bwlch Penbarras / Old Bwlch) – 258m – 11 to 25% – 2.3km

#89. The Road to Hell – 353m – 3 to 20% – 11km

#90. Horshoe Pass (Bwlch yr Oernant) – 317m – 7 to 20% – 6.1km

#91. Bwlch y Groes (Hellfire Pass)- 385m – 11 to 25% – 3.5km

Another 100

#188. Melin Y Wig – 100m – 1.3km – 8%

#189. Llanberis Pass – 247m – 4.9km – 5%