Chamber Rachet Multi-tool by Fabric – product review

Fabric Chamber Multi-Tool
Fabric Chamber Multi-Tool

I don’t think that I have done many product reviews, but this latest purchase is really rather clever and I thought that I’d share it with you.

So the product is the Chamber Rachet Multi-tool made by Fabric. I have to admit to liking clever design, and this ticks almost as many boxes as my Brompton Bicycle on the clever design front.

First off is the smooth finish of the Chamber itself….. this means that it will not snag on your expensive cycling clothing or equipment.

Smooth appearance.
Smooth appearance.

Second is the functionality. Not only does it contain a multi-tool with 13 functions, it builds into an efficient rachet T-bar head. Each of the tools also has 3 different grooves to locate it in the best position for the required job.

13 functions
13 functions
And 3 different positions for the rachet
And 3 different positions for the rachet

Lastly, its aluminium casing and overall look is just cool. Who could ask for more? And weighing in at 168g, the Chamber packs in a lot of functionality.

All weighing in at a respectable 168g
All weighing in at a respectable 168g

Fabric also produce a fixed, non rachet version, which is similar design and slightly cheaper.

List of tools/ functions:
2mm hex
2.5mm hex
3mm hex
4mm hex
5mm hex
6mm hex
8mm hex
SL3
SL5
PH1
PH2
T10
T25

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Mt Ventoux on a Brompton Bicycle – Three Times in One Day

All three ascents of Mt Ventoux in a day
All three ascents of Mt Ventoux in a day

So I have been given the go ahead by my other half to go and ride Mt Ventoux on my Brompton in June.  With an opportunity like that, it would be rude not to take full advantage and ride all three routes to the top in one day, (from Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault) and thereby become a member of the Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux.  So that is the plan.

I have to say that Mt Ventoux is one of my favourite climbs and I have completed it a number of times on a regular road bike.  I wrote about my last exploits on the mountain a while ago.  Riding up and down it on a Brompton bicycle will certainly add to the challenge.

This could be a good test for both mine and the Brompton's hill climbing abilities.
This could be a good test for both mine and the Brompton’s hill climbing abilities.

Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


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Strava – Don’t you just love it?

Strava advert

Strava, you have to hand it to them. They recently sent me an email that went as follows:
Hey,
Studies have shown that Strava athletes with lots of followers live longer, happier and far more glamorous lives. Can you imagine being a spry 140 year old, taking KOMs (King of Mountains) by accident and finishing every day in a hot tub filled with champagne and gold coins?

We know everyone is different, so here’s a menu of pre-written emails to get the ball rolling. Fair warming: some are almost as absurd as this email. Thanks for spreading the word.

Then I was able to click on any of the five options and send them out to friends.

Option 1. COMPETITIVE.
Title – I’m so much faster than you! Prove me wrong on Strava.
Text – Hey, When you’re ready to ride with the big dogs, you should sign up for Strava. It’s a great way to spice up training and get fit. If you join and train hard, maybe in 10 – 15 years you can keep up with me. Give it a shot…. it’s free.

Option 2. ENCOURAGING.
Title – I need you on Strava! It’s just not right without you.
Text – Hey partner, You should really try Strava. It’s made my riding a lot more fun, and I’ve met great people (just like you) and discovered lots of new routes. Plus it’s free… c’mon, just download it! You’ll fit right in.

Option 3. NASTY.
Title – I’m sick of you not being on Strava. Get with it!
Text – Hey, You ride a lot. You talk about riding a lot. “Epic adventure here, hard training day there, blah blah blah…” but none of it is on Strava. Get with the times and sign up already. I’d rather check out your activity in the Strava feed than hear another “you should have been there!” story.

Option 4. NICE.
Title – Please join me on Strava. It’ll be fun!
Text – Hey Friend, I really think you’ll enjoy Strava. It’s the best way to track your rides and connect with other athletes… sort of a tracking app and social network all in one. Give it a try (it’s free) and we can follow each other!

Option 5. IF IT’S NOT ON STRAVA IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
Title – If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen. Time to legitimize your overconfidence.
Text – Hey, There are two kinds of rides: those recorded on Strava, and those where you thought you were faster than me. Join Strava and show me what you got. It’s fun and free.

Strava logostrava screen shot

So there you have.  And they create really cool little animations of your year.  Here is mine:  My 2015 Strava Adventure

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

Oh, and if you would like me to live a longer, happier and far more glamourous live, please remember to follow me on Strava by clicking on the button below!


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The Rapha Festive 500 on my Brompton S6L-X

The Brompton Lift to celebrate completion of the Rapha Festive 500, 2015 Edition
The Brompton Lift to celebrate completion of the Rapha Festive 500, 2015 Edition

Since 2010, the Rapha Festive 500 has challenged cyclists to ride a total of 500km on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This year, I decided to complete the challenge on my Brompton.    This is my journey……

So I am fortunate enough to have a very smart white Brompton S6L-X.  For those of you who don’t understand the S6L-X bit, the S represents the type of handlebars (there are other types available, known as M, P and H types), the 6 represents the number of gears (1, 2, 3 and 6 speed are all options), the L represents that I have mudguards (E is without mudguards and R is with mudguards and rack).  Finally, the X means that I have the extralight version with a  titanium rear triangle and forks.  If you want to have some fun building up your own dream Brompton, their  Build A Brompton tool on the website is very cool.  I added some Schwalbe Marathon tyres for maximum puncture protection, a bottle cage and my Garmin 810 to record my rides, and was all set to take on the Festive 500.

The cockpit
The cockpit

I am staggered by how well this bike performed.  You have to remember that this bike is designed for city riding, its small, 16 inch wheels allowing it to be ingeniously folded into something that you can take into cafes, the office, on the train or on a plane.   My experiences over the last few days have proved that it is a very capable contender for long distance cycling.

I completed the Rapha Festive 500 in five rides, finishing on 29 December (still with two days to spare).  If you are interested in the details of my rides, you can follow me on Strava by clicking on the “Follow me on Strava” tab at the bottom of this post or by clicking here.  Alternatively, you could look at the right hand side or bottom of this blog (depending on whether you are viewing on a desktop or mobile device) to the section entitled Rides.

Ride #1 – 24 December

A short one to ease myself into the challenge.  Just did 51km (32 miles), after all, it was Christmas Eve.

Yes, Brompton's go up hill quite well
Yes, Brompton’s go up hill quite well.

Ride #2 – 26 December

Decided that a nice round 100km (62 miles) would be a good idea on Boxing Day.  Found some new roads that I hadn’t been on before and generally had a nice explore on my Brompton.

Brompton shadow - this bike is capable of anything.
Brompton shadow – this bike is capable of anything.

Ride #3 – 27 December

Rode 81km (50 miles) with a buddy.  He was out on his road bike and was amazed that my Brompton had no problem keeping up.  Infact, towards the end of the ride, I dropped my buddy off and then continued for a few extra clicks, just because the Brompton is so much fun to ride.

Ride #4 – 28 December

The big one.  Rode 162km (100 miles) today.  It’s no secret that I like to ride long distances whenever I get the chance.  I rode all the stages of the Tour de France over a 3 week period last summer (admittedly on my road bike) and have written about how to complete a century ride and what to eat during that ride in previous blog posts.  Today was the day that I was going to test out whether my Brompton was up to the task.  And it most certainly was – 100 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes is a very respectable achievement.  I averaged at 28.5kph (17.7mph).  It was during this ride that I think that my love of the Brompton evolved.  Not only could it do big distances at decent speeds, it was also comfortable for long days in the saddle.  What is not to like?  I also really like the way you can fold the rear wheel to create a stand, very useful for any comfort breaks on long rides!

Very convenient stand arrangement.
Very convenient stand arrangement.

Ride #5 – 29 December

This was the last ride of my Rapha Festive 500 and all I needed to do was 106km (66 miles) and the challenge was complete.

Oxfordshire countryside.
Oxfordshire countryside.

I planned a lovely route through the Cotswolds and as expected, the little Brompton kept on giving.  I stopped in Bibury, which is a fairly popular tourist spot in the Cotwolds and the bike certainly attracted some attention.  People always want to come and talk to you about the wonderful bike and I had to demonstrate the fold to a number of people.

Posing in Bibury before the crowds arrived.
Posing in Bibury before the crowds arrived.

So there we have it.   My average speed for the 500km was 27.44kph (17mph).  The Rapha Festive 500 completed in style on my Brompton S6L-X.

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

 


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My Rules for 2016

I like to make up my own rules, so from this day onwards I am going to commit to the new fitandforty.org rules:

Exercise 5 days a week

Mountain summit

 

Take rest and recovery seriously

The 3rd Pillar of Health

 

Eat as healthy as possible, most of the time

Nutrition - the first pillar of health

 

Always spend less than I earn

Spend less than I earn.

Easy, how simple was that!

Have a great 2016.

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you.

 

My 2015 Strava Adventure

 

Strava have created really cool little animations of your year.  Here is mine:  My 2015 Strava Adventure

Thank you Strava.  See you out there in 2016.

Bike friends

In Paris!
In Paris!
Burning some matches on Alpe d'Huez in July 2015.
Burning some matches on Alpe d’Huez in July 2015.

Oxfordshire countryside in December

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) – part of my daily ritual

So for the last few years I have been using a pretty neat App, called Ithlete. Each morning I strap on my Heart Rate strap, connect it to my phone via Bluetooth and do about a minute of breathing in an out in time with the directions from the app. At the end of the monitoring, it gives me a Heart Rate Variability reading and more importantly a colour. I will be totally honest with you here, I run my training schedule based on these colours:

Green = Go to go. Can do hard session, intervals, smashfest etc.
Amber = Lower intensity, aerobic exercise, maybe a recovery ride, or some endurance miles, but nothing too taxing.
Red = Recovery day, very light intensity or rest, so maybe a gentle session on the rollers, or some stretching.

What I love about it is the simplicity. I am lucky that I can be fairly flexible in my approach to training. But if you accept that each week you are probably going to want to do a hard session or two, and a couple of easy rides, then I just do the hard stuff when I have a Green morning reading and save the easier stuff for Amber days.

Heart Rate Variability is a great way of determining your level of fatigue. It basically measures how much time there is between each of your heat beats. If you are fatigued, you will have a low HRV and the length of time between heartbeats is consistent (and will give a Red reading). When you are less fatigued, you will have a variation in time between heartbeats because the body is able to rapidly adjust to requirements for oxygen (high number and a Green reading). So by monitoring my HRV each morning, I am able to train accordingly.

21 Stages of the Tour de France and 21 Random Observations

Between 27 June and 19 July 2015, I rode every stage of the 2015 version of the Tour de France.  That is 21 Stages (Etapes) in total, so I thought that I would make 21 random observations about my journey.

1.  The Tour de Force is a brilliant organisation.  From the beginning of the whole journey right through to the end, all the staff go that extra mile to make the whole Tour de France experience a wonderful one and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Sarah Perry, one of the most talented logisticians in the world. There is literally nothing that she cannot do!
Sarah Perry, one of the most talented logisticians in the world. There is literally nothing that she cannot do!

2.  Food rules the world when cycling.  I consumed in excess of 43,000 calories during the Tour, with no associated weight gain or loss.  I usually needed a bit more than the average French hotel evening meal to satisfy me!

Typical evening meal in a French hotel
Typical evening meal in a French hotel

3.  Sunflowers are an integral part of Le Tour.

The sunflower shot!
The sunflower shot!

4.  Life is simple with direction.  I followed these black arrows on yellow backgrounds around the whole of the route for 3 weeks.  No issues.  I am, however, finding it a bit tough to readjust to a life without arrows – I even got lost on my commute to work on my first day back!

Good directions!
Good directions!

5.  There is a lot of climbing in a 3 week Tour de France route.  During this year’s route, we rode 59,000 metres of vertical ascent.  That is the equivalent of 6.7 ascents of Mt Everest.

Col d'Allos, the highest point of this year's Tour
Col d’Allos, the highest point of this year’s Tour
Col de la Croix de Fer - also quite high
Col de la Croix de Fer – also quite high

6.  Cobbles – why would you want to race over them on a road bike?  No, seriously, I don’t get it.  On a mountain bike, maybe.  But on a road bike no.  They are just dusty farmers tracks.

Why put your road bike through this?
Why put your road bike through this?
One of the sectors
One of the sectors

7.  A clean bike is a fast bike.  My bike wasn’t the most aero, or most expensive, but it was one of the cleanest in the peleton.  I even wrote a post about cleaning your chain.  Bottom line is “keep your bike clean” and it will go faster.

A clean bike is a fast bike
FACT – A clean bike is a fast bike

8.  It is possible to ride the Tour drug free, but coke helps.

A can of coke can work wonders.
A can of coke can work wonders.

9.  Tour mania.  If the Tour comes to town, it is an excuse to get that rusty bike out of the shed, paint it up and put it on the roadside.

One of the thousands of painted bikes at the roadside.
One of the thousands of painted bikes at the roadside.

10.  Cycling can be a dangerous sport.  Broken bikes, broken legs, broken collarbones and lots of gravel rash.  This all happened during Le Tour.

11.  Mitigating risks.  The risks above can be mitigated somewhat by riding with people you know and trust and who communicate well.  That is why I rode with my two trusted Tour buddies and we made it to Paris without incident.

And me with riding buddies.
Me and my riding buddies.  (Peter on the left and Sylvain on the right).

12.  Money doesn’t grow on trees, but apparently bikes do!

The Bike Tree
The Bike Tree.

13.  France has some seriously beautiful countryside.  Particular highlights for me were the Pyrenees, the Gorges du Tarn and the Alps.

The Pyrenees
The Pyrenees
Gorges du Tarn
Gorges du Tarn
The Alps.
The Alps.

14.  Tour life isn’t that glamorous.  It’s not all podium girls and champagne.

Podium girls
Podium girls
And celebrations...
And celebrations…

In fact, it is quite the opposite.  Different hotels every night, washing kit, cleaning bikes and eating.  I wrote a post on the daily routine whilst on Tour here.

15.  Support from family, friends, colleagues and local business makes a real difference.  I got loads of support from all the above throughout the whole event and it made a massive difference.  Nineteen of my family and friends turned up in Paris to welcome me to the finish line.  An ex boss turned up at Alpe d’Huez to support me on the way up (probably one of the reasons I was able to do a 51 minute ascent of the hill).  My colleagues at work followed and supported me via social media whilst I was away.  The local opticians, in a random act of kindness, provided me with an awesome pair of Oakley Radarlocks and ran a collection tin for me.  It all meant so much and was fantastic.

Support from work colleagues.
Support from work colleagues.
Support from an ex boss on Alpe d'Huez
Support from an ex boss on Alpe d’Huez
Support from my family. This is my daughter and me in Paris.
Support from my family. This is my daughter and me in Paris.

16.  I am actually quite a good cyclist.  All my training paid off and I completed the Tour comfortably.  I have added a couple of Strava screenshots to reinforce my claim that I am quite good.

Note my name at the KOM slot at the top. Then see barguil warren at the bottom. Warren Barguil is the chap who knocked Geraint Thomas off his bike on the descent of Col de Manse on Stage 16 of the Tour de France.
Note my name at the KOM slot at the top. Then see barguil warren at the bottom. Warren Barguil is the chap who knocked Geraint Thomas off his bike on the descent of Col de Manse on Stage 16 of the Tour de France 2015.
Note the names directly above and below me. Jeremy Roy, pro cyclist with FDJ and Alex Dowsett, pro cyclist with Movistar and hour record holder before Bradley Wiggins took it off him.
Note the names directly above and below me. Jeremy Roy, pro cyclist with FDJ and Alex Dowsett, pro cyclist with Movistar and hour record holder before Bradley Wiggins took it off him.

I also managed a sub hour ascent of Alpe d’Huez, which is apparently a respectable time.  I did it in 51 minutes with 20 stages and about 3400km already in the legs, so not too shabby.

17.  P20 suncream is awesome.  One application pre-breakfast and no further suncream faff required, which is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that the mercury touched 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) on occasions.

18.  Hydration becomes an obsession.  Riding long distances every day, in some pretty hot temperatures (42 degrees Celsius or 107 degrees Fahrenheit on a couple of occasions) makes you become obsessive about your hydration state.  I was probably drinking around 5 litres a day on the bike and another 5 litres a day off the bike.  Needless to say, I never made it through the night without a visit to the bathroom (but at least that it meant that I was properly hydrated).

19.  Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tyres are the best.  Period.  I rode 3427km on them, over every conceivable road surface, including cobbles and gravel, and did not get one single puncture.

If Heineken made tyres.
If Heineken made tyres.

20.  Fundraising is fun.  Raising money for the William Wates Memorial Trust has been very satisfying, especially when you know that the money you raise is going to have a significant positive impact on the life of a disadvantaged young person in the UK.  To date I have raised about £4062, which really will make a difference.  My donation page is still live at this link.

21.  My last observation is about PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).  The mind is a wonderful thing.  I woke up each morning excited about being able to ride my bike all day.  (I love riding my bike, so this was a real treat for me).  This positive outlook make the whole experience really enjoyable and I honestly believe that my positive mindset make the whole journey so much easier.

Thanks for reading my post.

 

 

 

Numbers and statistics from my 2015 Tour

Garmin readout after 21 Stages of Le Tour
Garmin readout after 21 Stages of Le Tour
My Strava distances for TdF
My Strava distances for TdF

Total saddle time – 134 hours

Total distance covered during my 21 stages – 3427km (2130 miles)

Calories consumed –  43883   (with no associated weight gain or loss)

Vertical ascent completed – 59,000 metres (equivalent of 6 and a bit ascents up Mt Everest)

Numbers of punctures or mechanical issues – Nil

Average speed for whole Tour – 25.2kph (that would have been enough to win the Tour de France in 1926).

Number of pedal revolutions – 643,200

Total amount raised for the William Wates Memorial Trust – £4062

Stage 21 – The Final Push to Paris

Day 21 stats

 

In Paris!
In Paris!

Saddle time for today – 2 hours 15 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 134 hours

Total distance covered since start in Utrecht on 27 June – 3427km (2130 miles)

Wow, it’s all over and I have made it safely to Paris.  It was so lovely to be greeted by family and friends on my arrival into Paris.  There were 19 in total, which is a most impressive support team – thanks everyone.  An evening cruise, eating and drinking on the River Seine with some of my family and all my fellow cyclists was a lovely ending to a wonderful tour.

Peter and me at the end
Peter and me at the end
Me and the Untypical Athletes
Me and the Untypical Athletes
Reunited with my lovely daughter
Reunited with my lovely daughter
And reunited with my lovely wife
And reunited with my lovely wife

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3736.  Thank you to the following for the latest donations:  Mervyn Davidson, Aunty Gillian, Glen Batty and Katharine & Suria Perera.  If anyone else would like to increase this total amount raised so far, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Fitness in your forties