Basic rules for lubing my chain


Compact chainset - is smaller better?
Nice clean chain.

I often get asked about my chain and how I keep my bicycle chain so clean and quiet.

First and foremost, when doing any chain maintenance, I always start with a clean chain – I don’t add a coat of fresh lube over old gunk.  I give it a good scrub with a brush and degreaser, then rinse.  If I am feeling particularly lazy, I use my Pedros Chain Pig devise to do the hard work.  Then I rinse off the degreaser with water and dry it all off with an old rag.  The chain is now clean, dry and free of gunk and lube.

It is important that you use the appropriate lube for your riding conditions: dry lube for arid and dusty, wet for rainy and muddy.  I am a big fan of Shimano  PTFE lube which keeps my chain running smoothly.

Here is a little secret for applying the lube: Touch the tip of the bottle to the inside of the chain just infront of the lower jockey wheel on your rear derailleur – this helps drive the lube into the chain.  Then lightly squeeze the bottle while turning the cranks backwards five times.  Then remove the bottle and rotate the cranks a further five times to allow the lube to penetrate the links even further.  I then leave my bike for about an hour, before coming back with a clean rag.  I wrap this around my chain and turn my cranks backwards again a few times to remove any excess.

And there we have it, a perfectly lubed and ready to ride chain.

My 12 Peaks Challenge – Completed

Well I did my 12 Peaks Challenge yesterday evening.  12 climbs up the Ridgeway.  Total ascent wasn’t quite as much as I had expected, but 1450 metres of climbing over a sub 3 hour ride in Oxfordshire isn’t to be sniffed at.  In fact, my Mount Ventoux climb last year was 1533 metres of climbing, so I only needed another 83 metres and I would have done the same!

The ride details are above, but I basically did two climbs of all of the following:  Foxhill (x 2), Ashbury (x 2), White Horse (x 2), Dragon Hill (x 2), Blowingstone Hill (x 2) and Sparsholt climb (x 2).

It was fun.  It was a beautiful evening to be riding.  And ultimately, I am hoping that it assist in getting me in good condition for my Tour de France ride later this summer.

Looking for inspiration – Beryl Burton

Beryl Burton- Britan's greatest female cyclist?
Beryl Burton- Britan’s greatest female cyclist?

You may or may not of heard of Beryl Burton.  She was a mega cyclist who dominated women’s cycling from the late 1950s to the early 1980s.

To give you an idea of just how good whe was, here are list of time trial times that she set and how long they stood for:

10 miles:  21:25 set in 1973 and stood for 20 years

25 miles:  53:21 set in 1973 and stood for 20 years

50 miles:  1:51:30 set in 1976 and stood for 20 years

100 miles:  3:55:05 set in 1968 and stood for 18 years

12 hour:  277.25 miles set in 1967 and still stands today (Beryl rode at 23 mph / 37kph for 12 hours).

And all these were set in an era befor aero bars and disc wheels became standard time trial equipment.

Her 12 hour record in 1967 was greater than the men’s record at that time.  There is a famous true story of when she caught MikeMcNamara, who himself was on the way to recording a new men’s national 12 hour record (0.73 miles shorter than the figure that Beryl Burton set), she offered him a Liquorice Allsort (a British sweet) as she passed him, which he accepted and ate.

Her training regime was simple, hard manual labour working on a rhubarb farm mixed in with lots of time in the saddle, cycling up to 600 miles a week in the Yorkshire Dales.

And her cycling achievements are phenomenal – seven world titles, 96 national titles and the best British all-rounder for 25 consecutive years.

A truely inspirational women, and one of the cycling greats.  Beryl untimely death happened whilst she was out riding just before her 59th Birthday.  She collapsed and died on the roads near her Yorkshire home.


My Secret Power to Weight Ratio Improvements

Hello team car

If you want to raise your Power to Weight Ratio (PWR) as a cyclist (the higher the better), then you can do either of the following:

  • Lower your body weight
  • Raise your average power output
  • Or do a combination of both the above, being careful not to take off too much body weight and reducing your power.

For a simple guy like me, though, who has been training pretty consistently over the winter months, (so unlikely to make any significant increases in power output), and have weighed in at around 67kg forever, I needed a cunning plan to increase my Power to Weight Ratio.

So here is my secret.  I have been riding the heaviest winter hack for the whole of the winter.  I have been carrying two large water bottles on every ride, irrelevant of how short or long, I have been carrying more spare tubes that you could ever need, I have been wearing an old Giro helmet and heavy mountain bike shoes, usually covered over with booties, and I have always had a good stash of food to ensure that I am self sufficient for a 160km ride.

Now that Spring has sprung, and I am 50 days out to the start of my Tour de France ride, I have shaved off the following weight from my equipment that will effectively increase my Power to Weight Ratio without any body weight loss or power increase.

  • Change from winter hack to summer bike 2kg loss
  • Change from 2 x 750ml bidons to 2 x 500ml bidons   400g loss
  • Change from carrying 2 spare tubes to 1 spare tube  100g loss
  • Change from old helmet to new Giro Synthe  75g loss
  • Change from Mtb shoes to Road shoes  240g loss
  • Change from carrying all food to little food  100g
  • Total weight loss = 2915g (almost 3kg).  

I’m going to test out my instant Power to Weight Ratio increase on my 12 Peak Challenge and I’ll let you know how it goes.



My 12 Peak Challenge

As you probably know already, I am currently training to ride the whole of the Tour de France route this summer. If you haven’t seen the details, then this link will take you to the full details.

Well, my training is going well and I am feeling strong and confident.  But I always like to challenge myself, so this week, one of my sessions is going to be the 12 Peak Challenge, which involves climbing the Ridgeway twelve times.  The ride is going to be about 100km, and will involve about 2000m of vertical ascent, so not bad for an afternoon of riding around Oxfordshire.  It’s not exactly the Alps, but it will do.

Wish me luck.

My Training Weekend in Sheffield

Just a record of my two days of Tour de Force training in Sheffield at the end of March 2015 and a couple of photos. Day 1 was a windy day, Day 2 was a wet day – it’s good up North!

Hello team car
Hello Team Car

Team Castelli

Grey day in Sheffield

Day 1 – 2400 metres of climbing in the Peak District.

Day 2 – Only 1200 metres of climbing in the Peak District, but a shorter route.