Monthly Archives: September 2012

Training: gaps

I am in Ghana this week. No bike. No training. Sitting in meeting rooms most of the day. The departure date is getting closer and every month between now and January I have big chunks of travel for work. There will be big gaps in my training. This can’t help. Last week in Dar I cycled every day. I felt good. But fitness can disappear so quickly and then takes so long to get back. I look at the map of the tour and I get excited. I look at the training gaps in my schedule leading up to the tour and I get a little anxious. Perhaps both are good.

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Bike discourse: Or why I like lists

I like lists because they are, in a way, the starting point for our discourse, for our stories. Finding the discourse or story is just giving shape, structure and possibly meaning to the bits of narrative found in the gaps between and underneath the items on a list.

It doesn’t matter whether you are writing fiction or an audit report (although in many cases these days they are the same thing).  You still start with a list – or the evidence and data (fiction simply means you invent the evidence – you make up the list). Years a go when I was writing some technical report somebody said: ’Just start with the data and tell the story in the data’. Good advice.

But don’t worry. I won’t bore you with the bits of narrative in the gaps between the multi tool and the tire levers on my ‘tools and bike bits’ list, or the ‘2 packs of baby wipes and nail clippers’ on my hygiene list. Some stories just aren’t worth telling.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Bikes: banana seats and butterfly bars

Back around 1967 my little brother got a CCM Mustang Duomatic for his birthday. It was very cool: mustang bronze, 20 inch wheels, 2 gears, a banana seat and butterfly bars. I was about 14 then so it was too small for me. But I liked it. At that time I still had a paper route. One afternoon while I was delivering papers I noticed that somebody on my route had thrown out an old Raleigh bicycle frame. In those days we talked about bikes in terms of the size of the wheels. This frame was for 26 inch wheels. My size. After I finished my route I went back and asked for the frame. They thought I was nuts but gave it to me. Over that summer I used that frame to build a bike. I painted it white with red flashes in the middle of each bar; it had a 26 inch rear wheel and a 20 inch front wheel; a banana seat and butterfly bars: a real chopper. I had a great few weeks with it. Then one Saturday, shortly after school had started again, I rode it to the local pool to go swimming. When I came out from swimming the bike was gone. Of course I hadn’t locked it. We hardly ever locked bikes back then. And I had spent all my money building the bike and hadn’t kept any for a lock. It was a 5 mile walk home. The croix der fer that I will ride on the Tour d’Afrique is also a lovely white bike.  Perhaps I should paint red flashes on it, and get a banana seat and butterfly bars.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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List of lists

I can feel time passing quickly. Even though the start of the ride is still four months away it is beginning to feel very imminent. It has reached the point where I am making lists of lists. I have a list of spares; a list of camping stuff; a list of clothes; a list of cycling gear; a list of medications; a list of electronic stuff.

One big piece of luck has come my way though. Two Australians who did the full TdA in 2010 are passing through Dar Es Salaam at the moment. I was put in touch through a friend. They are all coming over for dinner tonight – and we will go through the lists. Kind of like asking friends to come see the slides from your trip with the kids to Disney World. But hey. They get a free dinner.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Training: What is it with spokes?

About 45 or 50 km into my ride this morning I broke another spoke. I know the roads are rough and there are corrugations in places but this is ridiculous. I seem to be breaking a spoke on the same wheel every 200 or 300 kms. All spokes have broken on the rear wheel drive side and they are breaking at the nipple where the spoke enters the rim. From what I can find out, it may be one of two things: either the tension of the spokes is not right, or hard and sudden pressure on the drive train (i.e. going up hill) is popping them. I don’t think it’s tension. When I have replaced the last two spokes I have checked the tension on all spokes on the wheel. I have even tried to listen to see if they were playing roughly the same note. The wheel now has a few thousand km on it. I wonder if the original spokes are just crap and now after a few thousand kms they are all beginning to suffer from metal fatigue. I was at the  top of a stiff climb when noticed I had another broken spoke today, and I had accelerated and hit the drive train hard a couple of times on the climb. But I’m not Chris Hoy for heaven’s sake! Time for a new wheel perhaps.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania