Nineteen Thousand Near Stubbings

Cateye Computer showing 19,000 miles

The Cateye on my Nerone rolled over 19,000 as I rode by Stubbings

Today, just past Stubbings, the Cateye on my Nerone rolled over to show 19,000.

And that’s the only time in my life I’ll have the chance to write that.

(And if you’re feeling bewildered, Stubbings is a place near Maidenhead; a Cateye is a brand of cycle computer that logs total miles ridden, average speed on a trip and so on; and a Nerone is a type of Bianchi road bike. I’ve a first generation model and it’s the bike I consider my workhorse. Today it clocked up 19,000 miles.)

So, doing some major rounding off, let’s call that 1,266 hours if I was doing about 15 mph – which isn’t unreasonable. That’s 75,960 minutes. I tend to pedal a medium gear rather than push a big one, but let’s say I’m doing just 80 revolutions a minute. That’s 6,076,800 pedal revolutions, and that’s only on that bike. That’s just a silly number.

In terms of human evolution, obviously enough we weren’t designed to ride bikes because bikes are quite new in the big scheme of things. Legs ain’t made to go around and around. But it isn’t – on the whole, for most people – a painful form of exercise, your weight is quite well supported and there’s none of the jarring that can come with running, even if running is theoretically more natural.

I get tired from cycling and I can get aching muscles from it, but that’s about it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cycling-induced injury as such, and that has to be a good advert for riding a bike. It’s not as if I’m some super-fit, lean, mean racer – I’m a fat bloke in his 50s. If riding’s suiting me it might well suit any number of other less-than-fit people.

The utterly daft thing, of course, is that we have to find ways to keep fit. Ever increasing numbers of us have lifestyles that we’re just not physically designed for, that we then have to shoe-horn ‘keeping fit’ in to already over-crowded schedules. It is, on just a moment’s reflection, farcical. At least cycling offers more than merely exercise; it’s as much a means to escape and reflect as it is a way of getting fitter or a way of moving around.

Tested With Flint (A Tale Just For Cyclists)

For a few weeks now I’ve been riding on Michelin Krylion Carbon tyres on my main Bianchi ‘workhorse’ bike and have been very impressed. Inspecting them closely once or twice has shown them to be almost totally unscathed – barely a cut or even a mark on them. I’ve hooked out one embedded piece of stone (which didn’t cause a puncture) and that’s it.

Photo: Michelin Krylion Carbon Tyres

The remarkably resilient Krylions

However … we’ve had hardly any rain for ages, and rain means dirty roads and lots of washed-down pieces of grit. Around here, grit often includes flint. A heavy bloke on a bike riding on flint-strewn (let alone pot-hole riddled) roads is a proper test of a pair of tyres.

Yesterday – a Bank Holiday, so pretty typically – it rained almost all day. Sometimes heavily, sometimes just lightly, but all day. What the weatherman called ‘useful rain’. It made a very welcome change even if it meant riding would have been a bit unpleasant. It also made today’s jaunt around the lanes the first proper test of the Krylions. They remain almost completely unmarked.

That actually is quite remarkable.

It might not be a super-fast race tyre but I’m not a racer. If you’re at all prone to punctures then all I can suggest is that you try them – they’ve worked for me. (And if you’re a racer who’s prone to punctures, then I’d rather suspect getting through a race without a flat will gain you more time than the seconds to be gained from a lighter tyre.)

I did have a pair of Continental 4000s that I wore out without them ever puncturing, but otherwise I’ve been let down by various Schwalbes, Continental Gatorskins, Vredestein Ricorsos and any number of cheaper tyres.

October is what I’d call the traditional start of puncture season – wet days after the dry summer months can mean a lot of road debris – so we’ll see how they fare then. So far though, I am impressed.

Why have I come to be riding on them? Back in January (the 7th) I stopped to lend a hand to a chap who’d punctured. Another rider was already helping; naturally talk turned to tyres; the other rider helping was on Krylions and recommended them. Then on the 11th I had two punctures on one ride and that prompted me to try something new. So, I do have to say I am very glad I stopped to help, and grateful for the chap’s opinion. It’s good when events have a kind of symmetry.

(If only there was a gum-coloured side wall version of the Krylions to put on retro-looking bikes … Ah well, you can’t have everything, and that really is being a bit keen.)

Big Round Numbers

My workhorse bike – the one I do most miles on and ride in any weather – is a first generation Bianchi Nerone. While out today it clicked over 15,000 miles on its odometer. I fully appreciate the daftness of getting in any way excited about round numbers. Sometimes, it’s nice to be daft.

Two thoughts came to mind about riding technique today. Firstly, dappled shade requires extra care. On a sunny day it’s easy to feel you can relax but the bright light of stronger sun can produce some deep shadows, and in deep shadows pot-holes and similar can lurk. I find dappled shade in particular can make it very difficult to see the road ahead clearly. It’s something to be aware of; it’s very easy to not pay quite as much attention as you should on a nice day.

Secondly, on a day like today, with a fairly strong wind in parts, be aware that your ability to hear what’s going on around you can be seriously hampered – and hearing is a very important sense when you’re on a bike. As with driving a car, cycling well and safely is all about anticipation, and you can often hear other vehicles before you see them. Again, it’s just something to be aware of: it’s a windy day so I’ll take extra care to look around me because I can’t hear what’s around me as well as I might.

A technique tip for all drivers: when overtaking cyclists make sure you give them enough room to swerve, or even fall off. You’re unlikely to be aware of the hazards they’re having to deal with – drain covers, holes and what-have-you. It’s the approach I take when I’m driving.