Monday, 21 October 2013

l'Eroica 2013 My ride Part 3

Sunday morning dawned and as I opened the shutters I was greeted with the ends of the night time darkness, and early morning mist/fog. The ground looked damp but not wet so after a quick shower and breakfast, dressed ready to ride, I put the Raleigh in the car and we headed off to Gaiole. Well as the sun came up and the fog started to clear the contrast to Saturday could not have been more stark. The views down into the valleys were spectacular with vineyards as far as the eye could see, it was....well beautiful.
My spirits lifted, we headed down into Gaiole but could not get into town so decided to park up in a Winery car park just outside the town centre .

We walked into town passing many riders whom had already started and the atmosphere was vibrant to say the least .In town I made my way up a side street to the back of the que whilst Sue walked up the main street to wait  for me to ride through. There were vintage bikes everywhere you looked, it was truly a feast for the eyes. During a conversation with other riders I met up with an english chap called Mike Marber and we cycled some of the route together. Good weather, good conversation , the Strada Bianca and the feeling that you were part of something unique, it just made for one of the most memorable cycling experiences of my life. I think the photos below say a lot more than my writing efforts so please take a look and as to the question would I do it again, you bet, it was bloody brilliant!!

Well thats my ride finished, the smile says it all!!

Final stamp check

A well earned double espresso

 My Flicker LEroica 2013  file with all our trip photo's

Sunday, 13 October 2013

L'Eroica 2013 My ride Part 2

  So we had arrived at just north of Siena and about 20k from the small town of Gaiole, the start of L'Eroica. We woke up on the saturday morning to mist, low cloud and rain and my heart sank as to what might be for the Sunday ride. However we ate a quick breakfast jumped in the car and drove to Gaiole to sign on, soak up the atmosphere (and the rain as it turned out).
We made our way from Quercegrossa via Vagliagi towards Gaiole over some of the Strada Bianca that we would be cycling the next day. It didn't look good in the rain with rutted roads and steep descents, I was worried as to how we would fair? However we arrived in Gaiole, found somewhere to park up and made our way to the centre of town to sign in.
The un-organised chaos of signing on to the L'Eroica

Finally at the front of the que!

Following signing on we had a good look round the stalls and wondered the side streets taking in all that was on offer. Vintage bikes, parts both NOS and some that looked ready for the skip were  available for sale but as forums inter-mated in the UK, prices were of the inflated variety and although there were some very tempting things to purchase prices were just to steep for me.

I think these need a little work 
Parts old and new ( well almost)
Seats covered up as the rain pours down.

 The rain just kept on falling so we decided to get some food and made our way to a restaurant . It was supposedly a Pizzeria that couldn't serve Pizza (the oven wasn't fired up) or indeed Cappuccino ( the machine was broken!!!) Not a great start to the weekend and as the rain fell we headed back to the car and our hotel for hot showers and hot food. Tomorrow was another day and lets hope it was to be a dry day

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

L'Eroica 2013 My ride Part 1

So this weekend saw Bobs Bike Shed in Sunny Tuscany for this years L'Eroica. It had been a long term dream of mine to ride in this event having followed it for a number of years since it was first run in 97 and for those of you that have read previous entry's will no that over the winter of 2012/13 I rebuilt a 1980 Reynolds 753 Raleigh team Ti especially for the event.
Entry for the event changed this year with a pre-registration rather than a first come first served basis and following an email I received from the organisers, i mistakenly assumed that I had a reserved place, so flights were booked along with hotels and hire car and all I had to do was wait for the next email to complete the entry process. Well upon further investigation it seemed that i had jumped the gun and although I had been given a number (1347) it was outside the  initial 1000 places set aside for foreign riders. Oh well I thought, we shall still go and just enjoy being there.
A few months later I got to a tweet from one of the people I follow, that stated some charity spots were available for riders that missed out on one of the initial 1000 places. Well that was it, in with both feet I paid my money and waited to see if I had been accepted?
Now for any one that has visited the official L'Eroica website they will tell you that its not the most user friendly, easily understandable site in the world and it was a few more tense weeks wait until I could confirm that I actually had an official place on the ride and I have to say when it was confirmed I was rather pleased.
So preparations began.
Now for some time i have been toying with the idea of hiring out bike box's to traveling cyclists and I though what an ideal opportunity to try out one of my suppliers hard case offerings and see how it faired traveling to Italy. Polaris is a company I have  admired for a while having had and used a number of their products over the years so a call was made and a new rigid bike box was despatched to the shed.
Polaris rigid bike box

So here are some photo's of the Raleigh Team Ti being loaded into the box.

The empty box minus its foam inserts

Foam inserts in place

wheels packed and ready to be covered with the foam inserts

bike packed 

So the bike is packed and ready to travel.
The Raleigh Team Ti packed in its Polaris rigid bike box just about to be loaded on to the Plane at Gatwick

So its reached its final destination at Hotel Le Loggia unpacked and ready for  riding ( well apart from its pedals)

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Lewisham Bicycle loan scheme

In March this year as the Bike shed was starting to get busy for the season ahead, I received a phone call from a chap called Simon White who is the MD for a company called Active Cycle Projects. He wanted to talk to me about a project he was working on with a view to using my services.  So we met up at a well known coffee chain in Tonbridge for a chat and of course a caffeine fix. Simons background was varied but having recently left "On Your Bike" at london Bridge, he started up his business looking at a range of projects within the cycle industry primarily to encourage people to get involved in cycling and riding bikes.

Working with the london Cycling campaign and Lewisham council  the Lewisham Bicycle loan scheme was born out of a small pilot project in Greenwich. The idea behind the scheme is to offer people the chance to try a bike for a month and see if it fits in with their lifestyle or indeed more promisingly that they change their lifestyle to one that fits a bicycle. The cost? Well its a nominal fee of ten pounds which gets the individual, membership to the London Cycling Campaign  to provide third party insurance and all the other benefits that are offered.  Part of the scheme includes free cycle lessons for those that want them, so from beginners through to the more experienced, there is a chance to brush up skills or indeed learn to ride a bike for the first time. After the month is up they can either purchase the bike through the scheme or return it. A further integral part of the scheme and importantly to gather evidence to support the project, each person loaning a bike has to fill in a weekly questionnaire detailing how they have used the bike, what they liked about it and what they didn't like and so on.

 During my first meeting with Simon I was struck with his enthusiasm and indeed the ethos behind the scheme. I felt it very much fitted in with my own and how I wanted Bobs Bike Shed to progress. Part of our discussion focused on cycling infrastructure and the large costs involved. Interestingly whilst up and down the UK, local authorities are bidding for funding to improve the infrastructure, it doesn't necessarily follow that cyclists will use it. However by using small amounts of funding and giving people the chance to try a bike before they have to commit money on something they may end up not using, you are beginning to alter peoples behaviour and indeed, the evidence  Simon is collecting seems to back this up.

As a result of that first meeting I have been involved in the project, building the initial fleet of bikes, attending the loan sessions, talking people through their bikes and then maintaining them once there returned. I have been struck by the enthusiasm of each person attending, happy smiling people who are so excited to be cycling, you cannot help but smile with them as they cycle off up the road. One particular example was a Lady who hadn't cycled for 2 years following a serious accident on her Road bike, saw the scheme and thought its was an ideal chance to see if she could get back on a bike again.  Yes...... she did!
 Simon and the LCC are  currently in discussions with other London boroughs that are showing a lot of interest in what we are doing in Lewisham, who knows what that may lead too, but if the success of this project is anything to go by we could very well be coming to a town near you soon.

Part of the fleet for lewisham

Building bikes

A growing fleet of bikes

All lined up ready to ship up to lewisham

Our first Loan location at the now defunct Lewisham  ladywell leisure centre

Our current location,  Ladywell athletics track

A bit of protection from the sun

All ready for loaning out

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Shimano Ultegra Di2

So its been a while since I posted and suffice to say the workshop has been flat out since March with not enough hours in the day to cope with customer demand. Dont think for one moment that I'm complaining, its wonderful to see this little business begin to grow and I guess I must be doing something right. I also want to let you know about some work we're doing with the London Cycling campaign  and Lewisham Council but more of that later. This post is about Shimano's Di2 Ultegra group set.
A customer wanted me to fit the Di2 group set to a Giant Defy advanced. The bike in question was a 2012 model set up for Di2 but not fitted (its fitted as standard to the 2013 model). It has internal routing for all the cables with the battery mount under the left hand chain stay. I have to say its all very neat and tidy and works a treat, the customers first ride confirmed that and he was very pleased. Anyway here are some photos illustrating the set up.

Giant Defy Advanced stripped and ready for the new group set

Shimano Ultegra Di2 Group set

Battery holder mounted to lefthand chain stay

Internal wiring junction box 

Rear mech

front mech

Front mech control wire entering the frame

Battery mount 

Exit hole for the wire that connects to the  adjuster and front controls 

Rear mech

Battery mounted into holder

 Gear adjuster for the rear mech

The completed build with Ultegra Di2 group set.