Thursday 2 November 2017

Normal for Norfolk and Some Other Musings (LGD - 192 Days)
Thursday 2 November 2017, 104 Miles

Click here for Route Flyby

Despite the lack of writing here for the last few weeks there’s been no lack of riding on my part. I’ve also been quite busy out of the saddle so before I tell you about today’s century ride I thought it would be good to catch up on a few of my recent events and adventures.

First up – progress has been made on the top-secret, hush-hush project. Real progress. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity making a series of minor adjustments. All a bit like fine tuning the derailleurs. You know – the chain is running slightly roughly so a quarter turn of the tensioner in top gear and all sounds sweetness and light. Changing down a couple gears and you can hear and feel the chain running roughly so another minor adjustment of the tensioner, perhaps only an eighth of a turn. On you go until eventually things are running smoothly across the whole gear range. Over the years I learnt that patience and a soft touch are the key to success. Unless of course the problem is more fundamental like a frayed cable.

This is how it’s been with the top-secret, hush-hush project. Making a minor tweak here created a new minor fault somewhere else. Tweak that and, worst case scenario, the original fault reappears! But with patience and persistence we finally got there. All the work is now finished, I’ve signed it off and handed it over for production. The official launch date is likely to be towards the end of January though a limited supply may be available sooner for the “special few”. There’s still some work to do on the PR and marketing fronts and I’m going to be immersed in this over the coming weeks. I’m getting quite excited at the prospect of being able to see and touch the finished product – it has been a long time coming; much longer than I originally expected.

THE Map!
All this has meant that opportunities to get some centuries in have not been possible. I’ve had to stick to shorter (c50-mile) rides. But no less enjoyable and I’ve been using them to ride along lanes I haven’t ridden before so that I can colour them in on my map of East Anglia. The map is looking pretty busy now. With the generally good weather and the onset of autumn, most of the rides have been very enjoyable. As I write, the autumn colours are probably at their peak so I’ve been making the most of enjoying them. The sugar beet harvest is in full swing now but the dry weather has meant that the road surfaces are generally clean and free of the cloying clay that seems to have a magnetic attraction to my frames and wheels.

It hasn’t all been sweetness and light though. On one recent ride I experienced a bad case of the infamous ‘Mavic Death Scream’. Let me explain. I’ve got a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels which I bought a couple of years ago. I was freewheeling downhill at about 20mph when there was the most fearsome screech from the bike. Just like the sound you hear when there’s oil on your rims and you break hard. Eventually I worked out that the sound was coming from the hub on my rear wheel. So a trip to Madgetts in Diss was necessary. The cause of the problem seemed to be the nylon seal that Mavic use on the freehub, or possibly the pawls in the freehub itself. Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mick removed the freehub cleaned the seal and replaced the pawls. Whilst he was working I chatted away to Mick, Tony and Sean about some of my recent rides and showed them some of the photos on my phone. They seemed quite impressed with the Fford Penllech 40% climb that I’ve already written about (8 October). I guess they were less than impressed with my admission that I hadn’t actually managed to ride it. Sean, who had been holidaying in Snowdonia recently, knew about some of the roads I described. Repairs finished, Mick pointed out that there was still a bit of movement of the cassette on the freehub so I may have to face up to the wheel reaching the end of its life. Although it’s only two years old I reckon it’s done about 10,000 hard miles so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. When I asked Mick what I owed him for the work he said there was no charge, adding that it was worth it to hear me talk about my rides and share some of the photos. In my book that goes beyond good service. Way beyond. Next time I’m in the market for a new Bianchi I wonder how many photos and ride stories it’s going to cost me? (Only kidding guys!)

Well, there you have it - a glimpse of some of my recent adventures. What about today’s ride?

The cause of the puncture
With dry roads and the hint and hope of some autumnal sun breaking through the early morning mist and light cloud I decided to head north into south Norfolk for a century through Watton, Swaffham, Dereham and Wymondham. I decided to leave the Ksyriums in my garage to test on another occasion when I would be riding closer to home so I fitted a pair of Fulcrum Quattro wheels to the Infinito which I had decided to ride today. Off I went, looking forward to the ride. After only 9 miles as I was passing through East Harling, I could feel the tell-tale sponginess of a rear wheel puncture. A false start! The cause of the puncture was a tiny piece of grit which had lodged itself in the tyre and worked its way through to pin prick the inner tube. I must have picked it up en route as the tyre was clean when I left home. The most annoying thing was that this was the first puncture I’ve had this year. Not bad after riding over 13,000 miles since January. I had even started to contemplate the prospect of a year’s puncture-free riding. Silly me! A quick tube change and I was soon underway again.

A Norfolk 'hill'
The rest of the ride was really enjoyable. I took it at a steady pace savouring the countryside and soaking up the views. Although the sun didn’t materialise the crisp, cold air gave the ride a welcome freshness. I especially enjoyed the long straight lanes that are a defining feature of Norfolk.  The views at this time of year are simply magnificent. Although I do really miss the mountains of Wales the broad sweeping and gently rolling Norfolk countryside has a lot to offer for enjoyable riding. There was a real sense of nature getting ready to hibernate for a few months before spring reappears and the natural cycle begins again.

So that’s it. I hope to be able to get a couple more centuries under my tyres before the year ends. Watch this space…