The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Thu, February 21, 2013 13:38:30
People who know me well know that I have two passions (3 if you count LIFE in there as well).
My site Pickledimages.co.uk
Photography and Cycling, but more of late it has been Cycling then Photography. The reasons for this switch in priority can be explained by the fact that Cycling takes up such a great deal of time and the fact that Photography Equipment is not so portable that you can carry your DSLR on the bike with you ..........
Until now that is! I was given a new camera for xmas the Canon S100 .
Now this little baby is amazing slim enough to pop in your racing vest powerful enough to have enough control over the image to take a great image.
Full manual, semi manual (T/V and AV) modes available, images can be taken on RAW, JPEG large and small and together combinations.
Full control over White Balance, ISO, EV etc, it has many preprogrammed modes and scenes including Panorama Stitching and Fish eye lense (which is a lot of fun).
An added bonus is that in the Creative Modes the ring around the lense is the controlling feature for TV and AV modes which means that even fingers with gloves on can control the image.
Fantastic Burst speeds.
GPS tracking of images is available as well all this in a camera not much bigger than a packet of fags!
The speed of the images (or lag) is so much better than i remember before on the old compacts, giving you ample opportunity for taking nice cycling images.
Downsides: there is no viewfinder (a must have for most photographers), you are unable to switch lenses, however the Canon S100 makes the most out of the focal length that it does have. Battery life is poor
Now the good folks of the I Team have got used to me poking a camera in their collective faces that they hardly seem to notice anymore which makes for great candid images.
I would go as far to say that i have already taken some of the best Cycling Images I ever have done with this little beauty (outside of the TDF that is).
I will soon be creating a catagory of this blog just to showcase my favourite shots!
Im back ..... now if my Team Mates would just let me get ahead of them a bit more often to take some images ......
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Wed, February 20, 2013 17:04:23
Its that time of year when you start to see many people bringing the Summer bike out of Mothballs, shiny carbon, super record and dura ace all abound.
But really in my mind the worst of the weather is still to come, February and March being really harsh even though the nights start to draw out and the clocks "Spring Forward".
The question is should we use a winter bike at all and is there any benefit to it (apart from the mud guards keeping your arse dry)?
Many Riders myself included ride a winter bike, not only is it fully winterized it is also much heavier than either of my Summer bikes, many do this in the belief that they get more benefit from training at the heavier weight!
As far as i can see there have been no studies on this, in my experience there are benefits to this however you are not passive in getting the reward, when you switch back to the Light Bike YOU have to ensure that you increase the workload / speed and power to make the lighter bike move faster.
You can see the speeds increase and you have to ensure that this is maintained otherwise the benefit will soon be lost!
I have created a list of for and against, make your own mind up!
FOR a Winter Bike:
Saves your best bike from being ruined by the roads and weather
Winter Tyres are a god send
Fixing lights on your best bike you risk marking the shiny paintwork
Falling on wet slippy roads puts your best bike at risk
Clothes are dryer and warmer
Makes a nice change!
A perceived benefit in training at weight
AGAINST a Winter Bike:
You have the expense of running two machines
You have to adapt to a second bike (one you wont race on).
The extra weight means extra stress
You will be faster than the rest on winter bikes
Training is more specific to your eventual goals
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Thu, February 14, 2013 18:17:01
I have been lucky enough to have been able to travel to Cyprus for a week, I am of course taking a bike! We are flying into Larnaca Airport and staying at the Military base with relatives.
So what is Cyprus like as a Cycling destination.....?
We flew in with EasyJet the flights were relatively cheap at a 100 quid each (for February). The bike was 55 quid return, the great thing about EasyJet is there is no drama as far as taking a bike, they are not phased at check in and deal with it efficiently.
[HINT] once you have an EasyJet weigh tag on your bike leave it on and they won't check again.
So once you are at Larnaca Airport the large baggage claim is to the right as you face the baggage carrousel. Hire Cars are simple they are waiting for you directly outside the Airport, prices start from about 10 Euros a day, you won't be able to take the car the Turkish side which is a shame as there is so much to see...... you may be able to buy extra insurance.
Riding in Cyprus.
The Cypriots drive on the left which is a bonus, in fact on a couple of occasions i forgot and started to ride on the right. The Roads in Cyprus are iffy, in the rural areas they quite good especially in the mountains but in the towns and built up areas they are poor, you cannot take your eyes off of them for potholes.
As you ride through some of the Rural Towns of Cyprus you will see many Men taking part in the Traditional Past-Time of sitting in Cafes playing cards and drinking coffee, i cant help but think they are a little more prevalent due to the severe economic troubles that Cyprus is experiencing.
When you ride in the mountains you have another problem, little landslides scatter on the roads and are potential puncture risk so you have to keep your eyes peeled be very careful on the descents.But overall the roads are good!
Traffic in the towns is hectic much the same as any Mediteranean resorts but once you are away from the towns into the rural areas the roads are traffic free and generally courteous.
It would seem that it is against the law here to drive without a phone strapped to your ear!
Where to Ride?
There are some great Mountain roads in Cyprus , Lefcara, Troodos, Pathos and Mount Olympus many of these mountains plus 2000 meters high , it's easy to find climbs of between 1000 - 1500 metres in height, great scenery with fantastic smells and sounds.
I was a little too far away to reach Troodos by bike, and anyway the webcam showed a lot of snow still in February at the Ski Station.
If you prefer some flatter terrain there are miles of flat road around the coasts.
Don't miss the opportunity to ride the Turkish side, you will need your passport and will be asked to fill out a slip of paper.
The people are VERY friendly indeed and immediately you pass through the checkpoint you feel like you are in a different country (well DUH you are).
[HINT] They don't take Euros which is a bummer.... if they do take them you will get change in Turkish Lira .... and lots of it.
The roads on the Turkey side are fewer but much better in condition except the towns where you take your life in your hands!
The countryside ranges from massive flat plains, windy coast roads ( I had a head wind for 70 miles) and enormous steep mountains.
You will pass through many rural areas which look like time has stood still.
Don't miss this opportunity you will love it, try the coast to coast route it's demanding but very rewarding indeed.
We went in February and the temperature was 17 - 18 degrees which for me is warm enough for shorts but too cold for short sleeves, take a stowaway jacket for the mountain descents , you will need it.
Cyprus is a great place to ride your bike plenty of great rides to ride and great weather I would give it 4.5 out of 5 the only reason it's not a 5 is the place names are confusing as they use symbolic letters, and interchange between imperial, but hey I'm being picky here! Get your backside to Cyprus, you won't regret it!
A couple of routes that i did (and a couple f routes that i didnt do yet).
Cyprus Coast to Coast
Lefkara Mountains 80
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Tue, January 29, 2013 13:07:45
This is the time of year when many of us "Club Cyclists" are at very different levels of fitness.
This is clear when going out on club rides, people who are generally stronger than you are struggling, people who you are generally stronger than you are leaving you gasping for air as they ride away from you on the climbs.
This can lead to a lot of self doubt and questioning of yourself "Am i training correctly?", "I should be stronger". These negative thoughts can be harmful and debilitating as the now famous "Chimp" bends your ear!
Well lets break this down:
1) Its perfectly reasonable to expect that individuals in the pack will be at different levels, hell it would be amazing if they were not.
2) When are these individuals going to be racing, some of them have already started or are planning to race at the Perfs Pedal in February, they may be planning an early peak and having a break to peak again.
3) Different individuals react better or worse according to the prevailing weather conditions.
What your "Chimp" should be nagging you about is:
"Have you been following your own training plan?".
"Does your annual training plan need revising?".
"How are you performing against the metrics that you set yourself?".
Another couple of points to remember are:
that this time of year your workload should be in about base2 or build1 phase which deals almost completely with the Aerobic and not the Anaerobic therefore working on force, strength and endurance .... this will pay you back big style in the season.
Anaerobic Training such as Intervals are so efficient that you really only have to carry out a few sessions to see great improvements to build on ....(remember your gains last year?) whearas Aerobic training is a tough , slow, build that you cannot afford to skimp on!
The Chimp Paradox
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Tue, November 20, 2012 20:57:30
Our Club Owner Guy Watson (who is a talented BCF coach) posted this question on our Club Forum .... Who is frightened to stop?
Now this is a very interesting question in the context of the end of the season.
It's this time of the year when most of the conventional wisdom is that we should reduce our efforts volume wise (well mostly we have to as dark nights and poor weather dictates) and we should be reducing the effort intensity wise also and most effort to be no more than zone 3 (base training being concerned with improving aerobic capacity).
Then why is it that twice this week have I hit my MAXHR? Am I frightened to stop or just poorly disciplined?
It's true that after following a periodised annual training plan I have been the fittest and fastest I have been for years (although it has not filtered down to results) I am deffo fitter, so why then do i continue to ignore my own advice and continue to exchange blows with the Xmas stars?
I think the answer is that cyclists are very competitive and I'm no different, nature will continue to slow us down as the weather worsens, I am sure that despite agreeing a pace with the group we will continue to battle hard.
Poorly disciplined indeed... But not frightened!
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Tue, September 18, 2012 14:38:45
Its that time of year when I start my Gym work again in an attempt to re-model my legs to be somewhere between a "Sparrows" and "John Forstemen".
In fact had it not been for my accident and resulting separated shoulder I had planned to carry out Gym work all year round, the very thought of the Gym has just been too painful until recently when I have been trying to rehab the shoulder using a giant ball.
Anyways .... there are (as in every Gym) a lot of beefcake bodybuilders, working out and looking at themselves in the mirror!
I used to think that this was quite funny, however the more i think about it most of these Guys have got it dead right with the training.......
1) The training is very specific usually targeting different (non - conflicting) muscle groups, each workout having a specific purpose.
2) The training is regular giving the body great routines to follow (we all know how the body likes routines).
3) They absolutely commit to and nail every workout 100% in order to get an adaptation.
4) They leave enough rest for recovery in-between each muscle group work out following a periodized training plan.
5) They are fanatical about recovery foods and proteins.
So if all cyclists were as strict in the training routines they would be a lot faster!
Still no excuse for the posing though.
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Tue, August 21, 2012 09:54:44
We moved on from the Black Forest to make our way to Bormio, we were still trying to avoid the tolls and cut through Lichtenstein and then into Italy, this turned out to be a mistake as everybody else including 1000's of trucks were doing the same, after a couple of wasted ours gripping the car seat with my arse cheeks we were at last driving through fantastic Swiss, Italian alpine passes.
One more stumbling block as the Tom Tom was insisting we take a "Ferry" which turned out to be a "Train", back to the old technology of a map!
We stopped at a Mountain Hut for a snack (which was to be our most expensive meal of the trip SWISS PRICES!)
Every trip takes a long time in this region there are no shortcuts.... stunning tho.
Once in Bormio we followed the sat nav to the nearest campsite and crossed our fingers that there would be space. We got lucky and found a great spot in "Cima Piazza" which transales to "Happy Mountain", our first contact with very friendly Italians.
Tent installed, Pizza Installed, Beer installed all good in the hood, i sat and planned my assault on the Italian Alps.
Passo Stelvio (Bormio)
The legendary Stelvio Pass can be found in the Italian Alps, it's 2750 metres in altitude however Bormio is at 1200 metres high to begin with.
Simply head for Bormio and you will find it well signposted.
I began the climb at about 2pm which was ideal as the traffic was at its lightest, early morning is another good time.
The climb averages 7 % and dips in and out of 10 - 14 %. all the way!
I managed to stay on the big ring until about bend 29! Oh yeah I forgot to say they handily (or not depending on how much pain you are in) they mark all 40 bends on the posts complete with elevation.
I started to suffer after bend 29 as the incline increased, I needed to get my breathing and rhythm under control!
The Stelvio has awe inspiring scenery enough to take your mind off the pain and suffering.
By about bend 26 my legs and lungs held an uneasy truce which converted into forward propulsion of about 9 mph, pleased with that, this must be the fruit of controlling my breathing earlier!
Aww ....... that's cheating, I encountered several bends that were not being counted, I can imagine some wild eyed mean spirited jobs worth who enjoyed discarding these bends under some Euro dictat! He is probably a German motorist or from Surrey.
Once I got over this heartbreaking fact I started to really enjoy the climb, there is a big spell of 3% which lets you recover (or if you are keen go faster, I'm not keen).
There is a section of the climb that you can see all the bends above, this is fun and very appealing to the eye!
The final bends I was gasping for air and on lowest gear out of the saddle for the first time! The air was quite literally thin and hard to come by!
At the top what a great feeling and view, if I was half a man I would go over the other side and do that climb, but I am quarter of a man so I descended very cagily down the descent!
Great descent a a few too many crazy motorcyclists (but hey I won't be happy until all roads are cycle paths!
The road surface of the Stelvio is mostly good helped by the fact the Giro is constantly on it, however a word of warning there are a lot of tunnels and in these tunnels there are very bad potholes, couples with the fact they are dark and wet .... well just be careful.
Its a beast of a climb, I loved its drama, it shoots into second place in my favourite climbs.
It's similar to Galibier but a little kinder at the top.
Passo Gavia 2650m - Cima Coppi
I knew it was going to be a bad day at the office when the first thing I wanted after waking up was a bowl to puke in!
I don't know what has caused this trauma at both ends, I suspect the local water!
I was in a lot of pain and tried to drink and keep my breakfast down.
I kept saying to myself if I can keep the cereals down I can still go out on my bike, I am after all in cycling Disneyland and a certain character has been teasing me since I arrived the Passo Gavia.
Steeped in history with the much talked about Coppi wins and Andy Hampstens epic heroics in sub zero temps.
So it was decided, cereals formed a truce with my stomach ( at least until the first slope).
I left at midday and hit the first slopes by half past! It became immediately clear that my body was not going to play ball.
My heart rate straight in the red on the first 10% slope, I knew right then that I should have of turned round.
Next 10% saw me jettison the cereals and nearly fill my shorts with liquid adenine of the brown colour. This is a first for me and not a very welcome one.
I kept thinking that I could get control of my breathing and get my heart rate down, but what could I do about my legs, I had no power only pain and I'm in the second to lowest gear already!
What happens next is mad one of the villages had cobbled streets, cobbles and barely held in liquid poo not great bed fellows. The cobbles were real bad and I got to thinking that they are the best kept secret and perhaps they go on for miles....
They ended unlike my toilet troubles which continued to plague me.
Constantly on my mind was just turn around, but this would be a first and my pride and stupidity forced me on.
I reckon I'm about halfway, constant 10% forcing me to get out of the saddle but this was scant relief to my dead legs and warring lungs.
It was time to deal with the Etna that was my arse, I had no pride left by now.
5 lb lighter I got back on the bike I was so slow it was painful, I am literally doing track stands on the Gavia, snails overtaking me and at one point bushes, soon realise that it's just me rolling backwards.
Ok it's time for a rest, I'm sitting down for 15 minutes, how much further is it?
I remount the bike to realise that the rest hasn't helped one jot I am fu@cked on a truly monumental scale, not the bonk yet but it's in the post! Totally fatigued.
I am usually quite good at motivating myself and controlling my mood and breathing, but not now, a black mood had descended and every hairpin just bought bad news, every sign the same!
Little did I know by this point that I was still only a third of the way up! That knowledge would have of crushed me.
I tried to think of Hampstens epic ride and Coppis exploits, no good! I
just wouldn't be lifted.
I am taking regular stops now, my progress is pathetic, everything hurts now, shoulder head, legs and left arm! Is this where it ends? Fitting....
Then like a hammer
blow came a sign 4.5 kilometres, iI cannot express the magnitude of another 4 kilometres In my mind.
Just one more hairpin lets see how the terrain is, good news it flattens right out for a klick I reckon.
Still track standing I am just grateful that nobody is around to see this!
I have been pedalling but putting no pressure on my pedals for miles.
I am on the home straight I want to cry but it's too much effort ... The Gavia is kind at the top, if it wasn't I would not have bagged my climb.
There is a clue on the sign, I thought the climb was 1850m ... Cruel trick of the mind....as its 2650M.
But i made it, no ride to be proud of but i made it!
I ordered a coke and a coffee which would not stay down, I made my way down the exhilarating descent.
Not 1 more inch would I go passed the Gavia sign, to think earlier I had flirted with the idea of doing both sides.
It's a nice climb with a body that's working, very scenic a little rough under tyre, I will remember this climb as the day my body stopped working!
The last 4k you really do feel as if you are riding in the wheel tracks of history, it's an amazing pass!
The hardest climb I have ever done.
Apart from sickness and the squits I don't think I had recovered well from the previous days efforts, it's hard when you are camping sleep is not deep and eating options not the same as home.
They say a man who does not take his own advice has a fool for an advisor!
If you are I'll it's not training!
For reference look up on YouTube Andy Hampsten a Passo Gavia, what a ride.
Passo Foscagno 2290
I also managed to sneak in the Passo Foscagno which again was over 2290 metres a very nice climb with quite heavy traffic, if you venture further on you cross the border into the principality of Livigno which is a tax free zone and had some very good bike shops which give you a good Euro to pound valuation. You will see a lot of riders on this climb!
My last chance for a ride so i chose Bormio 2000 a new route for the Giro for 2000 a brand new Ski resort for the area.
A lovely steady climb with no traffic whatsoever, if all roads could be made this way!
Italian Alps Summary
The Italian Alps is like Disney land for cyclists, the main characters being Passo Stelvio (which can be climbed from 3 sides) the Passo Gavia with its history and the Passo Mortirolo made famous by the late Marco Pantani.
There are several more climbs that are very accessable from Bormio, the area of Bormio has lots to do, and would be great with a Mountain bike as well, the people are VERY friendly and they maintain a nice way of life, the food was relatively cheap as was the campsite.
Everyday was like riding a sportive hundreds of cyclists in full regalia, i was however a bit dissapointed with the bike shops, lots of Scott and Specialised outlets but very little genuine Italian equipment on sale, this is due to how competitive the American suppliers when supplying franchising materials and deals, still a bit of a shame i thought.
1 last thought we wnet in August which is when the whole of Europe or on Holiday including the Italians, i would avoid this to limit the traffic and in particular the Motorbikes on the Climbs.
But as the great man said "I'll be Back".
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Mon, August 20, 2012 22:00:02
Let's get this clear to start off with, In Germany the car is number One. Nothing must be allowed to slow it down, if you do happen to get In the way you will be cut up, intimidated, hassled, have cigarette buts flicked at you.
If there happens to be a cycle path nearby it will be worse, in Germany the car is king!
We are travelling to the Italian Alps, Wendy has always wanted to visit the. B lack Forest ( and I've ways been a fan of the Gateaux) so we stopped off at a place called Titisee in the south of Germany.
The Region is beautiful and we camped next to a lake (bit of a mistake with my Insect allergy).
I took the opportunity to take a couple of rides of about 100k.
Once you get away from previously mentioned areshole German drivers into the country lanes the scenery is fantastic, road surfaces great, the forests are beautiful and full of smells and the sounds of hawks which are everywhere.
There are very little flat roads in this region most climbs between 800 metres and 1200 metres in height, easy to find 2 or 3 of these climbs in a 100k ride, one of the climbs Passhole Fredberg was 7 miles long (yes they call them Passholes).
Don't expect to eat healthily in Germany, even the salads are fried, everything you see is meat based, this reflected in the rather large size of the Germans.
In summary visit the Black Forest, bring your bike but expect bad manners and to be hassled, but if you can find the country lanes you wll enjoy your time.
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Mon, August 20, 2012 21:52:40
Work had been a bit hectic, we werent even sure whether we were going to be able to get the time off, but all of a sudden it was upon us, we had two weeks holiday starting in less than a weeks time..... and had planned nothing.
The choices were:
* Last minute all inclusive (fat B*stard break)
* Pop to see my Mum in Spain (with Bike)
* Road trip to Europe (with bikes)
It is probably tha last year of have a company car and Europe Fuel paid for so we decided on the Road Trip, now we have done some crazy road trips before therefore have pretty much smashed Europe .... what was left.
Wendy has always wanted to go to the Black Forest and i have always been a fan of Black Forest Gateau, so thats a match made in heaven.
I have always wanted to climb all the Major climbs so it was the Italian Alps for me!
So thats set then .... another quick flick through teletext to look one last time at the fat bastard holidays ..... nope that was it mind made up, off on the Road Trip!
Titesee in the Black Forest and Bormio in the Italian Alps ... superb, great for me who loves the massive climbs, going to be a bit of a diassapointment for Wendy who hates em.
Passo Stelvio, Passo Gavia and Passo Foscan firmly in my sites...... that and Gateau
The BlogPosted by Paul Webb Tue, July 24, 2012 21:34:25
I finally had to give in and waste good cycling time on decoarting the Hall Stairs and Landing!
To be fair I should be ashamed of myself it was grubby in the extreme having seen all four of my children through bike, skateboard, roller skate phases.... it was bad.
It just never seems justified when there is so much road to be ridden and so much bike stuff to be purchased.
Anyway I begrudgingly finished the job, painted, glossed, carpeted and even treated Wendy to a nice new mirror, but something was missing, we needed something to set it all off.
It had to be Cycling related (Studio Ghibli prints were a close second), we searched for old TDF and Giro prints but just couldnt get anything the size we liked with the riders we liked or would look good as a collection...... it was hopeless.
Until one day I was surfing for bike porn and came across (phnaa phnaa) the Roueleur website and started to look at the prints, I found the Rich Mitchelson Collection they were perfect! They match really well and I can honestly say that I cannot see myself getting bored with them. Hell they might even be an investment!
After getting the all clear from Wendy I began choosing the riders .... it was clear this was going to be an expensive endeavour as they were all so great, so I decided to start off with two and buy one a month. ..... so here they are in the order of purchase.
I did some research on Rich Mitchelson and found his blog, in fact i found out that he is great friends with Martin Green a cycling pal
but even better than that I discovered that Rich Mitch will create "Personal Portraits".
At last my only chance to join the "Hall of Fame" I gathered all my birthday money and sent Rich Mitch the deposit, all he needed were some recent photos of me to give him half a chance ........ look away if you are faint hearted!
Now all I had to do was to sit and wait, I knew that the result would either be insulting or impressive or insulting and impressive!
The big day arrived and here is the result!
I am really pleased, now I can take my place in the Cycling Hall of Fame!
Thanks Rich Mitch you are a star!