Thursday, 30 December 2010

Further energy drink crisis averted

Team Grumpy is relieved to learn that despite the sad news that the Rochefort Abbey in Belgium has been badly damaged by a fire, production of energy drink by the Trappist monks there will be unaffected. 
To be accurate, at strengths of 7.5% to 11.3% ABV, the Rochefort brews are more of a recovery drink than an energy drink.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Grumpy Bob's Year in Cycling

Grumpy Bob has reviewed his cycling activities during 2010 over at flies&bikes (My year in cycling).  On the whole, a good year with performances at 10, 25 and 50 miles that topped his rides in the last five or six years.
Oh, and has anyone mentioned the Duo Normand?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Team Grumpy in Tax Shock

Team Grumpy was shocked to read of Government proposals to increase tax on energy drinks (Tax on super strength beers and lagers set to increase | BBC News).  This news story began:
Duties on super-strength beers and lagers are to rise next year, the Treasury has announced.
In horror, Grumpy Bob read on, to discover what constituted 'super-strength'...would this include Team Grumpy official energy drink Leffe?  Would this mean a retreat to non-alcoholic energy drink?
Tax on beers and lager over 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) will increase from autumn 2011 although the exact amount will not be known until March's Budget.
Aha!  So that's OK, Leffe Blond is officially 6.6% (though the 9o, Radiuese and Tripel varieties enter high tax levels).

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The return of Team Grumpy

Grumpy Bob finally shaken off the recurrent cold that's been a bit of a burden since he returned from the USA in the first week of October.  This was convenient since Team Grumpy were reunited for the weekend - 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay was visiting and a Team Grumpy bike ride had been planned for some weeks. 

Of course all Grumpy Bob's assertions that we should 'take it easy' and 'don't forget I've been off the bike for four weeks' had zilch effect as Team Grumpy  found itself zipping along on a beautifully clear and sunny morning (though it was rather cold at the start), particularly after joining an old club mate on the way, with the consequences that generally follow.  Team Grumpy covered around 50 miles in about 3h riding time - the furthest Grumpy Bob has cycled since the trip to France in September, and the first 'proper' bike ride in the last month.  Team Grumpy did stop at a cafe in Winslow, which was just as well, since by the last 10 miles, Grumpy Bob's legs were suffering.  'Grumpy' Art's claims that his legs were in a similar state were, it is suggested, merely politeness.

It was notable how 'mobile' Grumpy Bob's heart rate was: while mostly it was in upper level 1 or lower level 2, it didn't take much for it to leap up to levels normally seen during short time trials.  So recovery may still be some way off.  Fortunately a whole winter's training lies ahead. 

Oh, and Grumpy Bob did collect a slow puncture a mile or two from getting home.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Duo Normand 2010

Duo Normand 2010: Grumpy Teamwork underpins emphatic victory for Team Grumpy in its centenary year, but rule-book seriously contravened

Given that we couldn’t even agree on which helmet to wear for the Duo Normand with only a day or so before the race, it might seem surprising that Team Grumpy finally pulled off a victory in the event at its seventh attempt. It has long been the philosophy of the team that we turn out in races attired in similar if not the same kit. For the last few seasons this has meant riding in identical skinsuits, using the same wheels (Hed H3 tri-spokes front and rear) and, in 2009, even the same sunglasses. For 2010, coincidentally, we would even be using the same GPS/computer. What’s the point, you might ask. Well, frankly, it just looks good and makes us look like a team. This is far more important when you consider that the two members of Team Grumpy are separated by 230 miles and rarely actually train together. [Actually, we train together less frequently than we race together! - Grumpy Bob]

Therefore, the mild disagreement over the helmets was perhaps more significant than it might appear on the outside. Robert (Grumpy Bob) preferred his Giro Advantage, but I had recently rediscovered my liking for an old (2004) LAS Cronometro. This is the original version with a short tail. We had both bought one of these in readiness for the 2004 Duo and not only did we look the part that year in matching red skinsuits [see the header image for this blog], but we also rode extremely well. I had started wearing this again for 2010 because it was more comfortable and the integrated visor suited me. My 50 year old eyes were struggling to read my stem-mounted Garmin through sunglasses but seemed to be able to manage better when peering underneath the bottom edge of a visor. I soon discovered that it was not slowing me down at all and in fact results suggested it might actually have been better than my more up to date aero helmets. My attempts to convince Robert, however, elicited no response (a sort of silent grumpiness).

Last minute harassment by me had at least forced Robert to take his LAS along to France. The question remained, though: LAS or Giro? It was only the night before the race that Robert relented. His motives, though, hardly reflected his scientific background, declaring that: ‘if we lose, it’ll be because you made us wear that helmet’. It was the most perfect invocation of Team Grumpy rule number one:

Remember to make your excuses before the race, not after. Otherwise it will just sound pathetic.

This is Team Grumpy at its best and, by implication, at its grumpiest.

[In the end however, I agreed to the LAS helmets on the somewhat girly grounds that they matched our 2010 'uniform' (grey and black) better – Grumpy Bob]

I had breached Team Grumpy rule number two, however. This rule forbids last minute tinkering with the bike and resulted from my insistence the very evening before the 2007 Duo that I take apart my headset and re-grease it. My inability to re-assemble it brought a predictable response from Robert who rescued the situation by remaining calm whilst I resorted to tantrums (team rule number 6), but it had been a close run thing. In fact, I breached rule number two not once but twice. Two days before the race, I discovered that my gears were jumping. No amount of fiddling with the cable tension seemed top help, so I had a close look at the rear mech. It turned out to be caused by the screw loosening on the hanger. The problem, therefore, was easily resolved and all that remained was to re-index the gears. This seemed to go far too easily for my liking. Then, the day before the event – after meeting up with the rest of the team in Marigny for the signing on process – I went for a spin to check out ‘ghoul corner’. This is the sharp left hand bend at the bottom of a fast descent at Le Lorey (approx. 34 kms into the race) where crashes often occur and the ‘ghouls’ line up to watch the horror unfold. I usually do my best here to show them how not to handle a bike, but I am yet to crash here. Four attempts at cornering around the bend suggested that I could practice all day but would not improve my technique so I made my way back to Marigny only to discover a clunking noise with each revolution of the pedals. I eliminated the usual causes and concluded that the bottom bracket must have worked loose.

Back at the cottage the problem worsened when I found that it wasn’t just a matter of tightening up the central bolt securing the Ultra Torque system on my TT bike. Experience had taught me that this was a time for teamwork, so I called Robert to help. Once again, there I was the night before the Duo putting my bike back together. Fortunately, the UT system is easy to maintain and removing the cranks, re-greasing the bearings and reassembly took literally minutes – mainly thanks to Robert’s involvement.

The morning of the race was soon upon us. We were both up early: Robert with his usual insomnia and me with my barely-sleeping daughter. The bikes and kit had been packed into the cars the night before, so there was little to do except for Robert to keep asking me if I was nervous yet. Each time I replied ‘yes’, but he kept asking anyway. There was an air of expectation for the team this year: we had been put off last in our category and I for one was reading all sorts of things into this. We had also done some homework on the other pairs in the category, most of whom we had encountered before. There remained, though, about six pairs about whom we knew nothing and so we were wary of a repeat of 2008 when an unknown pair turned up on road bikes with standard wheels, wearing ordinary helmets, and looking more like cyclo-tourists than TTers. They promptly went about putting several minutes into us, breaking the course record in the process. We took nothing for granted, but this year was beginning to look like our best chance – and we knew it.

Robert’s annual panic about bike checks and UCI regulations was soon calmed when it was obvious that we would not be scrutinised by calliper-wielding techno-jobsworths. Therefore, we settled into our usual warm-up routine. The morning had dawned cold but still. As our start time approached it remained cold but the wind was picking up. The warm-up was almost as eventful as previous years. Usually Team Grumpy warm ups are spectacles in their own right with Grumpy Bob managing a last minute puncture, or maybe a clogged up pedal and cleat. For my part, I usually manage to discover that my gear indexing has gone awry, to imagine a (non-existent) puncture – or two - or to find that the local gendarmerie are paying me some attention. I was pleased that the first two did not occur, but have to admit to being disappointed that there was no repeat of 2009’s ‘gendarme-gate’. This year it was my turn again. Having put the turbos away we headed off for a spin on the roads and with blissful ignorance I rounded a roundabout in the wrong direction. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I merrily continued riding on the left hand side of the road as I laughed off Robert’s attempts to tell me what I was doing. Fortunately, I came to my senses in time and moved to the right side. On reflection, it seems plausible that I was unwittingly trying to attract the attention of the gendarmes again.

The start time was approaching and we wheeled our way to the barriered-off area where riders are lined up before setting off. We had decided not to have a following car, thus enabling the team manager to await our starting effort armed with my video camera and with all the wisdom gained from the comprehensive training course that I had conducted in the few minutes between the warm-up and setting off for the start.

Soon, we mounted the platform for the start ramp to the sound of our names being read out on the PA system. Robert was under strict instructions to hold in his belly whilst the photographer took his pictures and I was under similar instructions not to do my usual look behind after we start to see if Robert has actually made it off the start ramp without crashing. We both failed. In fact, my ‘two looks’ back would later on cause Robert to accuse me of not trusting him. But at least my two looks behind had not almost caused a pile up as it had done in some previous years.

The same could not be said of the recumbent rider who rode across our path as we crested the first short climb out of Marigny. A few words in French from the bystanders and one or two expletives from us seemed to get the message across and we headed out of the town, past the cemetery and on to the fast roads that descend through the outlying villages. All of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. This has been happening a lot this year and had caused me some concern since May. The pattern had been the same in just about every race: after about 2 kms I found that I was unable to breath easily and needed to sit up, widen my arms by holding the outside of the handlebars by the brakes and recover from the start up effort. I should have pre-warned Robert about it, but hadn’t. It must have come to him as some surprise, then, when I gasped the words: ‘I’m … struggling … to … breath’. [Actually, all I could make out was “I'm struggling ugh-mughmup-igglebargle” or something like that. It should be noted that an unwritten Team Grumpy rule is that conversation during a race is forbidden, so clearly this garbled attempt at communication was significant and yet another breach of team rules– Grumpy Bob]

Without saying a word, Robert took the front. And he stayed there. He stayed there for some while, fighting his way through a maze of following cars and other vehicles that appeared to have strayed on to the course. I stayed put, hanging on to his wheel – or not at times – as we sped through these lanes, passing several other pairs of riders. Gradually, I was starting to recover and by the time Robert pulled over for a break from making the pace I felt able to contribute once again. The breathing problem had settled down – as it always does – but I was reluctant to do too much, so pulled over after a short spell on the front to let Robert continue his impressive pace-setting. This continued for the first 20 kms with me gradually taking longer, harder pulls on the front until I felt fully recovered. During this time we had been joined by a motorcycle marshal who rode ahead of us and cleared the numerous riders and other traffic out of our way. This made quite a difference and also gave us a feeling of importance.

Thankfully, my recovery was complete by the time the road started to go uphill. I realised by this time that I had some making up to do and that Robert’s huge efforts deserved repayment. This is where the team ethic really comes into its won. Frankly, Robert had covered for me when I was flagging. I knew it and I was sure he knew it. I still had to fulfil my part of the team effort. I started to do longer pulls on the front and as I did so I actually began to feel stronger and stronger. Ghoul corner was uneventful – even if I didn’t exactly zip through it like Robert did – and we were soon descending back into Marigny. The climb up through the town has often caused us problems and we have observed other pairs breaking apart at this point – under the gaze of hundreds of spectators too. Not us. We powered up the slopes and rounded the chicane of the town square to the sounds of the church bells and, as video evidence would later show, the screams of innocent children. But we remained unaware of this apocalyptic scene as we headed out on to the final leg – a 12 km out and back leg. The climb out of Marigny was the scene where I had thrown my chain off last year as I changed down to the inner chain-ring. This time I was aware that I was able to power up this in the outer-ring. The chain catcher that I had fitted in reaction to last year’s problem would not be tested this time.

Again, we were catching and passing several pairs of riders, often having to go on the opposite side of the road to get past the following cars. Our motorcycle escort had left us after entering Marigny (probably because of the relative narrowness of this final section), but it was here that we could have used his assistance most. We appeared to be roaring along at remarkable speeds and the relative pedestrian pace of those we passed seemed to emphasise this. I felt incredible on this section and it was hard to believe that I had struggled so much earlier on. My morale was high, I could feel how strong I was and could see how much faster we were and, most important of all, I felt that I was at last making my contribution to the team.

The final turn went well and we climbed for the final time – again passing other pairs with relative ease – until the road plunged downhill once again into Marigny for the final few kms. We were unaware of our position in the race and were also unaware of the electronic clock which displayed our position at the finish. Even if we had been aware of it, we could not have glanced at it as we flashed across the finish line – the finishing straight is way too fast to contemplate such a thing. Had we been able to look at it we would have seen that we were in first place and several minutes ahead of our nearest challengers.
Grumpy Art recuperating from L'Effort Total

After a short recovery, Robert asked me if I thought we had done enough to win it. I could only reply that there were not many pairs that we had not caught and passed (remember, we were the last ones to start in our category). But the memory of 2008 remained and we could take nothing for granted – not even at this stage.

The photographs were ready quite quickly, but previous experience had taught us not to expect the results to be ready for a while. We found other things to do to take our minds off it. Then, eventually, it was too much and we simply had to look to see if there were any results available. A pile of paper in the marquee tent suggested that they were ready. I was prepared for disappointment as I glanced at the paper on the table. But there we were, at the top of the results: first place. I looked at Robert whose face was full of apprehension. I meant to say something intelligent but all that came out was ‘well done’ as I shook his hand and the smile simply grew across his face.

As celebrations go, this was not a Team Grumpy classic. The plan to have a single beer before heading back to the cottage to shower and change was muted enough. But the wait of approximately 20 minutes to be served outside the bar ensured that it was muted further still. But we had won. After seven attempts, three second places and a third, we had finally won.

The podium experience was, to be honest, an odd one. We had showered and changed before heading back into Marigny without any idea how this ritual would play out. Awkwardly, we hung about by the podium as they interviewed Roger Legeay and made a presentation to the winners of the junior category. Had we somehow missed the presentation for the earlier events, I wondered. Struggling to follow any of the French spoken through the PA system we then caught a welcome sound: ‘categorie non-licencies’. The non-licence category had started and finished before ours. We were in the right place. Then we were called up on to the podium. We had made the mistake of changing into everyday clothes and therefore did not exactly look the part without a cycling top. We were also noticeably older than the other winners on the podium. Flowers were pressed into our hands and we posed for some photographs before a very nice cut glass trophy was also handed to us. I started to relax, but it was short lived. Other category winners started to fill the podium. They were all younger. There was hope when they announced the winners of the veterans’ category. But that was dashed when it became apparent that the veteran winners were ‘young’ veterans. Worse was to come when the elite winners climbed onto the podium. They looked even younger than the juniors. Thankfully, when the podium photograph was taken we had managed to hide ourselves at the back of the group – though, as we were also the tallest we were still visible (but only just).

Despite the odd podium experience this was a great success for the team in its centenary year. What made this so pleasing was that it had been a team effort. We’ve ridden better 2-up TTs and we’ve gone faster in the Duo too, but on this day we were a team. We even wore the same helmets.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

2010 Duo Normand - the podium at last!

Just back from France, where Team Grumpy finally made it to the podium. 
Team Grumpy entered the Corporatif category once again this year, and finished in first place with 1:24:22.  More details later.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Towards the Duo Normand (and Grumpy Bob's dubious turbo training soundtrack)

Grumpy Bob has blogged a preview of this year's Duo Normand two-up team time trial (2010 Duo Normand Preview) - and about a week or two ago, began thinking about ramping up the training for the event.  GrumpyBob's been something of an afficionado of Pete Read's turbo training manual - The Annual Manual a.k.a. The Black Book. This presents a straightforward and progressive month by month training programme.  It's safe to say this was behind Grumpy Bob's (and indeed "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay's) time trialling successes of 2000-2003.  Since then, as he's written, his ability to stick to a programme of training has been compromised by the demands of the day job.  Over the time GrumpyBob was following the programme, he was able to fine-tune and tweak the programme to suit his strengths and weaknesses.  this was made easier by the collection of turbo training sessions that Pete Read presented in The White Book. [Apologies for the lack of web links to Pete Read, but last time Team Grumpy looked, his web presence had vanished]

So the programme Grumpy Bob has adopted fits in some turbo sessions of short hard intervals around longer low intensity road rides and some time trials (Grumpy Bob has a '50' on 5/9/10 and a '10' on 12/9/10, the two weekends before the Duo Normand itself.  This morning's session was a set of 10 x 1 minute intervals at slightly higher than race pace, with 1 minute recoveries.  Quite a difficult session, albeit quite brief.  This, coupled with another variant, are progressive as the Duo looms on the horizon: in one case by doing more intervals, in the other by extending from 1' to 2' to 3' (and so forth) intervals.  Grumpy Bob thinks these, together with the remaining time trials will be enough to peak for the Duo, ideally with a few days easy beforehand.

This morning's music accompaniment was provided by Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO.  This unlikely sounding mob are a Japanese psychedelic inprovisational group, and the album in question was Absolutely Freak Out (Zap Your Mind!).

Even more unlikely than its applicability to an interval session is its cover, pictured right (click to link to Amazon).  Still, it provided an amusing distraction as Grumpy Bob pounded away in the garage at 6am this morning!  (The music, not the cover).  It's something of a celebration that the iPod is now behaving itself, and scrobbling to

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

BTTC COURSE - another two-up disaster

Well, I've just returned from another ride around the course for the British TT Champs. This time I rode it as a two-up TTT with Arwel Davies. But the main purpose of this 'recce' was to video the entire course for the website. This was going pretty well until about half way around the first lap when the canera jumped out of its holder and crashed to the ground. Thinking that this would provide excellent footage in its own right, I picked it off the road and replaced it in the holder.

On we went - doing a reasonable speed too. Then, I heard a loud 'crack' and looking down could see the camera flapping about in an uncontrolled manner. I tried to tighten the holder 'on the fly' but it was obviously more serious and needed proper atention. I stopped. Unaware of what was happening, Arwel carried on at pace. I fixed the bracket - although now the camera was being held at an odd angle, which I couldn't rectify no matter what I did. I could see Arwel up ahead on the climb into Llandeilo and eventualy caught up with him in the zig-zag section of the course. He was waiting for me (well, there's no way I could actually catch him given our relative abilities).

We rode on to the end of lap one where we stopped and I switched off the camera. Closer inspection revealed that the bracket had snapped and a glimpse of the footage suggests that vibration had been a major issue from the very start of the recording, which is probably unusable as a result.

What was clear, though, is that the climb up through Llandeilo is very tough and will certainly sort out the race. For the senior men, the second ascent is going to be very hard indeed. As for the rest of the course, there are some real energy-sapping drags and this is going to be a good test for all concerned. I'm pleased with the new finish. I'll ride it again as a TT to get another 'time' for myself. I am actually quite upset that I can't ride the event myself. But I feel that it would not be the responsible thing to do.

It wasn't until driving home that it occured to me that this was yet another UK-based two-up disaster. I should have known better.

Friday, 6 August 2010

British TT Champs - the best ever TT field?

With one day still to go before entries close for the British TT championships, the list of confirmed competitors reads like a hall of fame of British cycling.

If a field of greater quality than this has ever been assembled in the UK before, then I'm unaware of it. The Tour de France prologue TT in 2007 (in London) might make a claim to that accolade, but given that this was an all male affair with no women's event I still think we can edge it. In fact, the depth of genuine quality in our women's race shows just how far women have come in the sport in Britain.

I'm sure it's going to be a great day. The climb through the town of Llandeilo will catch a few out I suspect. It doesn't look much but it really does require a carefully measured effort. This is where the race will be won or lost and will also provide a real spectacle for those of us who don't have to ride.

I have a crate of Leffe ready for the post-race 'relax'.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Hell no, we won't wait

The recent "Chaingate" events during stage 15 of the Tour de France, has focussed Team Grumpy's collective consciousness on the thorny question of what to do in the event of mechanical mishap during two-up events.

Past precedent would suggest that the prevailing opinion on the TG team bus can be summarised as "Hell no, we won't wait".  There have been occasions when TG performances have been marred.  For example "Grumpy" Art's cassette collapse while descending the Neath bank some year's ago (a clear consequence of violating TG rule #2) - Grumpy Bob just kept on going, and this year's Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25', when "Grumpy" Art punctured - at least Grumpy Bob paused to see what was happening.  Similarly, the last two TG outings at the Icknield sporting TT have essentially been solo rides due to pre-start malfunctions.

What, you might ask would be the consequence of problems during the Duo Normand?  There have been issues, ranging from the cramp episode in TG's first ride in the event to "Grumpy" Art's chainset loosening, and in both cases TG continued as a team.  But what about a puncture?

Now that a following car appears compulsory, TG would probably try and effect a rapid wheel change, whereas in the past Grumpy Bob suspects it would just be a case of "Adios"! For what it's worth, it's a race, not a club run!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Duo Normand open for entries

The Duo Normand website, which mysteriously briefly disappeared a few days ago, is now open for entries for the 2010 edition of the race.  This year's event is on 19th September.
Team Grumpy's entry has apparently been made.  Team Grumpy's accommodation has already been booked.  Grumpy Bob's BC licence has been renewed.  Ferry crossing will be booked this weekend.  All set!
All Team Grumpy needs now is good form on the day.  And Leffe.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Physiology, training and the ageing cyclist

Pez Cycling has a brief article (Toolbox: What Does Every Masters Athlete Have in Common?) which touches upon the physical decline that faces the ageing athlete, and what to do about it.  For one in his second half century, Grumpy Bob finds there's always something a little depressing about such articles, but at least there is advice, most interestingly on the subject of recovery from training:
To me, the key is fitting workouts together like a puzzle. For example, perhaps one day the focus of the workout is strength type efforts, where the cardiovascular system is not overly stressed, but the essential component of strength is benefited. The next day, a focus can be more aerobic. In other words, you are working on different “systems” on different days.
One addition item. In a recent study, 75% of athlete’s polled (not sure of the amount in the study, but it was large) said they applied some type of recovery program to their training, like recovery drinks, massage, etc. I still think the biggest and most important, regardless of all the other things you try is sleep.
Anyway, Grumpy Bob's encouraged by his performances this season - routinely hitting levels he's not seen since 2004.  A testament to more structured and analytical training?  Or just luck?

Monday, 21 June 2010

2010 British Time Trial Championship

One half of Team Grumpy is organising this year's British Time Trialling Championship over in South Wales.  Of course this means the more web-savvy half of Team Grumpy has rashly volunteered with the website stuff.  Grumpy Bob leaves it to the reader to figure out who that is!

In any event, you can find out more about the course and how to enter at the Team Grumpy website.  To keep an eye on news relating to the event, and the web pages, you can follow the BTTC2010 Twitter feed.  An RSS feed will be set up shortly.

There are direct links to entry forms in PDF and MS Word formats.  Please note the entry fee is £15, and riders need to ensure they use the correct forms, and not the standard CTT entry form.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Golden Cheetah power training analysis software

Since revising his training programme and reviewing his work-life balance in late 2009 (and as described in the this blog), Grumpy Bob has coupled his use of the Polar CS600X HRM/Power computer with the very excellent Golden Cheetah software package.  The attraction of Golden Cheetah as far as Grumpy Bob's concerned is that it's (a) open source; (b) has an active group developers (which means relatively frequent updates), and (c) it's available for MacOSX, Windows and most importantly from Grumpy Bob's perspective, Linux.  Screenshots are available here (though perhaps not from the most recent build).

In a recent message through the Golden Cheetah mailing list, Grumpy Bob became aware of two new websites related to Golden Cheetah.

Firstly, one of the (and possibly the lead) developer Mark Liversedge has a GC related blog, 40 Goals.  Posts there very often reveal new and/or upcoming developments and features for Golden Cheetah.

Secondly, Golden Cheetah - Windows/Linux Development Builds provides pre-built executables for Windows and Linux (32 bit).  These are based on recent snapshots - Grumpy Bob's pleased to see some of the newer features there.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Half of Team Grumpy go ceramic

I've just installed ceramic bearings in my H3s. This is done not so much with an eye on the claimed lower rolling resistance, but in the hope that I will no longer need to de-rust the rear H3 everytime I go out in the rain with it. Previously, I've changed the seals and also tried a new rear spindle, but somehow water does creep in.

Anyway, ceramic might provide a solution to that particular problem, but whilst ordering the bearings for the rear it seemed a good idea to do the front as well - so I did. I also went with top quality grade 5 bearings. It'll be interesting, then, to see if they make any difference. But how will I be able to tell?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Team Grumpy accused of systematic Leffe abuse

Team Grumpy received a long and detailed email denouncing Team Grumpy as organising "institutionalised energy drink abuse". The long, rambling and frankly incoherent email specifically named 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay as the team member who actively promoted the consumption of what became the official team energy drink, Leffe. Over several seasons which many would characterise as "under-achieving", consumption of Leffe has long been suspected as the agent responsible for poor performance, inadequate technical preparation, and general loss of enthusiasm. One might take as examples both Team Grumpy outings in the 2010 season.

Bizarrely, low consumption has also been blamed for Team Grumpy's disastrous first appearance at the Duo Normand, due to early onset of cramp.

It is thought that the email originated from one member of Team Grumpy in particular. Wild accusations of excessive Leffe consumption by other cyclists not associated with Team Grumpy are thought to be exaggeration and an example of mental disorder. Specific occasions of "Leffathons" are particularly mentioned.

Finally, considering the accusation of institutional Leffe abuse, it is astonishing that the team management escape accusation entirely.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

At Last ...

... I am free of the pressure of work and can start to re-enter the land of the living. I begin training again today and will race for the first time for almost two months on 29 May.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Icknield '32k' - Team Grumpy maintains 100% record

Team Grumpy regrouped this weekend for the 2-up 32km sporting course time trial organised each year by the Icknield Road Club. This was the day after Grumpy Bob's club time trial round the Astwood sporting course, after which he suffered a rear tub puncture about 2 miles from home during his ride back home - which necessitated a trudge home along the verge since he couldn't get the tub off the disk wheel. Once home, he cleaned up the bike and shoes. Note this latter point as it becomes important later...

Later in the evening, Team Grumpy indulged with the now traditional Leffe and a visit to the local Thai restaurant (of course with added beers). By sheer stupidity on Grumpy Bob's part, Team Grumpy also consumed a quantity of Norman cider.

As a direct consequence the team was feeling rather jaded (the cynical might even suggest hungover might be a better description) on the morning of the race. 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay suggested it was as well that the start timekeeper wasn't equipped with a breathalyser.

Team Grumpy had hopes of completing the event this year in contrast to 2009's event, where the two riders rode separately after 'Grumpy' Art suffered a series of "punctures" which delayed his arrival at the start line.

Once at the Pitstone village hall race HQ, TG quickly got their numbers and set the bikes up with enough time to ride over to the start and warm up. Unfortunately a severe problem arose. Grumpy Bob's shoes just would not clip onto his pedals. (Remember the walking in the verge bit above?) The problem seemed to be that Speedplay pedals have the clip in the shoeplate, and this seems to be sensitive to mud.

'Grumpy' Art produced a collection of screwdrivers and a Swiss army penknife, and despite enterprising use of the bizarre tool that such knives always have that is supposed to be for getting stones out of hooves (or something like that), the clips could not be made to work. Faced with this, TG had no option but to send 'Grumpy' Art off to ride the event solo.

So once again, the Icknield event was a bit of a disaster for TG. 'Grumpy' Art rode round in about 50 minutes (though no time was recorded on the result board, merely 'DNF'), dodging the numerous potholes that have opened up this winter.

And so Team grumpy maintain their 100% record of DNF in 2010 2-up time trials.

As a postscript, Grumpy Bob did eventually restore his shoeplates to a functional state, but not in time to get a ride. But there's a lesson there.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25': The Grumpy Art of puncture repair

Grumpy Bob has just returned from the annual trip to ride the Port Talbot Wheelers -2up '25' time trial (See the three preceding posts for an episodic preview). Team Grumpy didn't approach the event with a good deal of confidence (for reasons of fitness), and both riders definitely had butterflies in their stomach as they drove towards the event. This may or may not have had something to do with the (albeit modest) consumption of team energy drink the night before. It's also possible that eating re-heated onion bhajis the night before (which were leftovers from Friday, and which had spent 24 hours in the Team Grumpy fridge) may have had something to do with it.

The morning itself was several degrees below freezing, with a substantial frost. The TG Team manager merely spoke sternly, pointing out we had "better snap out of it", and how she wanted "400W". TG's protestations that such power was only practical for about 60 seconds fell on deaf ears.

At the race HQ, it was immediately apparent that the interior of the hall was about the same temperature as the car park, and indeed the car park was more pleasant in the sunshine. TG quickly set up the bikes, and made a quick "warmup" (if such a thing is possible in the cold). Lining up at the start, TG made our usual brisk start - out onto the dual carriageway, for a nice wind-assisted outward leg. This was pretty good, and Grumpy Bob at least felt quietly confident. Unfortunately, after the first turn TG found themselves heading back into stiff headwind. Speeds were battered down, but by the time TG reached the second turn, all four teams that had started ahead of them had been caught. Another section with a tail wind followed, this time on the undulating sporting part of the course. Then disaster struck.

Team Grumpy exit a roundabout...

GrumpyBob spied a large pothole, and indicated its presence to Grumpy Art, at that time riding right behind. Unfortunately Grumpy Art's reactions were somewhat jaded by this point and he failed to avoid it, thumping right through with a loud cry of anguish.

The ultimate manifestation of this misfortune wasn't evident for a short distance, when Grumpy Bob (still at the front) heard shouts from his team mate, who'd stopped at the roadside. A quick U-turn later, and the explanation was clear - Grumpy Art's front tyre was flat. A quick discussion, and Grumpy Bob decided to finish the course alone. But not before another team (Ogmore Valley) passed us.

To cut a long story short, Grumpy Bob did complete the course, did pass the Ogmore boys again, but by golly, his legs knew about the last few climbs before the finish.

Meanwhile Grumpy Art was giving his impression of a masterclass in puncture repair. Which those aware of TG's antics at last year's Icknield RC sporting 2-up will know doesn't actually include successfully repairing said puncture, so it was on a softening tyre that he made it back to the race HQ.

Not the most sparkling start to the Team Grumpy Centenary 2-up Season, but it's early days. Team Grumpy will regroup for the Icknield RC 2-up on 29th March, where it's to be hoped that they do better than in 2009, when they started half an hour apart following another masterclass in puncture repair. As Team Grumpy discovered, this doesn't make for a successful ride.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' preview - part 3 (one week to go)

There is only a week to go until the first open event in Team Grumpy's centenary season. And in common with many other British competitive (or would-be competitive) cyclists, Team Grumpy has not had the best of winter preparation.

A combination of dreadful weather and ill-health has left Team Grumpy in a not very fit state. Well, actually Grumpy Bob feels "fit but fat", so he's not confident about tackling the second half of the PTW '25', on the "sporting" half of the course. Part of the problem is the extent to which cycling has been relegated to the garage. As Grumpy Bob twittered the other day, he didn't take up cycling to just ride his bike in the garage.

And Grumpy Bob thinks that if the weather in south Wales next Sunday morning is as horrible as it was in Bedfordshire this morning, Team grumpy may face management rebellions. The riders are stupid enough and obstinate enough to turn out even in vile conditions.

Still, we have the annual lunchtime repast at Y Polyn after the event to look forward to...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Weather. Aaargh!

Grumpy Bob has just checked the BBC's 5 day forecast for the coming week. He has one word for this. AAARGH!
It seems as though another lovely week of cycling mostly in the garage is likely.

Update 5.30am 22/2/10 - yep, it's snowing...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' preview - part 2 (aaargh!)

As the excitement of the opening event of Team Grumpy's season looms (the 2-up of this post's title), it would seem all is not well in the Team Grumpy camp.

Both "Grumpy" Art and Grumpy Bob seem to have been afflicted by unusual poor health over this winter, which coupled with the generally rather snowy weather has really dented their training. In a recent email, "Grumpy" Art even referred to himself as a "walrus". It is thought that this refers to a cough, rather than physique, since "Grumpy" Art has never been seen in a particularly overweight state.

The same cannot be said for Grumpy Bob, for whom gluttony appears to be the norm, and who relies on a combination of cycle commuting and turbo training to keep his weight down. Here, the snowy weather has dented the former, and a lengthy bout of a recurring cold through most of December has dented the other. He feels distinctly under the weather now, and fears he may have caught a cold that's doing the rounds at his work.

Or maybe it's just galloping hypochondria. Whatever, it would seem that Team Grumpy's season may well have a slow start in 2010.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' preview

It's that time of year, when Grumpy Bob unearths last year's entry forms and updates them to take into account his parlous performances of the previous year. 2010 is no exception, with the 2009 season not having been successful, mostly through having too much work, but also (and very sadly) as a result of the tragedy on the F1 last spring which dented Grumpy Bob's enthusiasm for racing for a while. The content of the entry form for the PTW 2-up has traditionally generated emails dripping with derision and sarcasm from "Grumpy" Art, though he has been mysteriously (and ominously) silent this year. See below for the probably explanation.

Team Grumpy bounced back for a reasonable performance at the Duo Normand, though they did get a serious drubbing from the winning BikeRadar team. As usual, Team Grumpy's season will kick off with the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' on the R25/24 course along the Neath Valley. This isn't the epic "Cheaty Course" on which PBs come thick and fast (and on which this event used to be run), but a neat little course at the bottom of the hill.

The course divides into two sections, with the first half heading south on the dual carriageway from the race HQ and back, turning onto a delightful back road to head south and back again. The DC section is always quite peaceful, while the second half undulates quite a bit, but runs alongside the old canal and through some small villages. Actually, this makes the second half rather more hazardous - last year saw a real Two Ronnies moment with a bloke carrying an unfeasibly long spirit level crossing the road with 2-up teams bearing down on him from both directions.

All in all it's a nice event, despite the frequent dodginess of the early season weather. The HQ, which is in a Working Men's Club, is spacious (if a little chilly), and the organising club and other riders always seem particularly chatty and friendly. Unfortunately this year, the Team Grumpy Centenary Season, we are starting out in less than ideal conditions - Grumpy Bob feels quite fit but is seriously overweight while "Grumpy" Art has likened his present condition to that of a walrus.

Still, four weeks to go, plenty of time...

The Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' will be on the 7th March (at a very civilised start time of 10.00am), and uses the R25/24 course. Still plenty of time to enter!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Grumpy Art: Le Tour et Moi (Caption Competition)

At a recent off-season social do, "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay had the opportunity to meet Jean-Marie Leblanc. It transpires that M. Leblanc, in addition to being a rather sharp impressionist, has a taste for ale. Apparently the club presented him with a tankard but no ale, so "Grumpy" Art took it upon himself to remedy this, with a sample of Old Speckled Hen.

Here in the Team Grumpy nerve centre it is thought that this photograph merits a caption. Team Grumpy have decided therefore to call a "Caption Competition", but one with no actual prize beyond glory. Or something.

Contribute captions via the commenting system please!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

How do you know when you are getting old and fat?

I think I have the answer following last night's farce.

I had to get up in the night to go to the loo (isn't that what happens when you get old?). When I got back into bed, the poxy bed broke with one hell of a crack.

Stupid ageing. Why can't some scientist do something about it?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Team Grumpy official energy drink: crisis looms

Sky News are reporting that Belgium is currently gripped by a developing beer crisis, due to strike action (Blockage Of Anheuser-Busch InBev Breweries In Belgium Leads To Shortage Of Stella Beer Lager | Business | Sky News).  On the face of it, this isn't of huge consequence.  Except that the official team energy drink of Team Grumpy is Leffe, one of the brands owned by InBev, and, indeed, named in the news reports of this appalling crisis.

At this time of the year, when the Team Grumpy "athletes" are in full winter turbo training mode, it is to be hoped that the team management take immediate and prompt action to secure adequate energy drink supplies in the lead up to the first 2-up of the 2010 "Team Grumpy Centenary" season - specifically the Port Talbot Wheelers '25' in March.

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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Icy turbo misery

Misery on the turbo is when you go out to the garage for a spot of training on the turbo, only to find the window is glazed on the inside with a sheet of ice from the condensed sweat of yesterday's turbo session...

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Friday, 8 January 2010

Some months ago, Grumpy Bob coughed up for the domain, to use as an alias for the "official" Team Grumpy website. Annoyingly, this site was pointing at a jpg image of racing cars.

About two months ago, Grumpy Bob took this up with his hosting company, who didn't offer a great deal of advice (at least at a level that Grumpy Bob could actually comprehend), and effectively passed the buck. Yesterday, fired with the success in getting a domain to point at a server in his house (e.g. this mirror of the Northwood Wheelers website), he raised the issue once more, and whoever was dealing with the support ticket on this occasion resolved the issue in a matter of hours.


Now, go and visit the Team Grumpy website!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


That's how I felt at the end of today's turbo session:

10 mins warm up
10 x 4 min @ c. 350W/L3-4 with 1 min recovery intervals
10 mins warm down

I now need to lie down for the rest of the day

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Work-life balance (a.k.a. "Aaargh!")

Regular readers of this blog (if there are such unwise creatures out there) may recall that Grumpy Bob made a serious attempt at addressing his work-life balance towards the end of 2009. This principally consisted of leaving for work somewhat later than he has done for most of his working career, and using the time freed up to indulge in turbo training, and when the day length increases, morning road rides (assuming the weather will finally have moderated by then).

Of late, even this strategy has come under pressure. Not only was Grumpy Bob prevented from effective training by a lengthy cold, the prospect of traipsing out to the garage at 6am in significantly sub-zero temperatures has not been, shall we say, received entirely enthusiastically.

Nonetheless, he has in general persisted. It is possible that the new interest in power training (Power-Based Training, part 1) has generated a revival of interest in turbo training, for which there's not been much alternative, since the council appears to be precious near with the salt (and indeed never treat any of the minor roads around here).

As a minor aside, the analysis GrumpyBob has been doing on his turbo sessions leads him to believe that his interval training (particularly the Black Book's "Progressive Power" sessions) which are based upon heart rate level are, in power terms, spot on for endurabce training. Well, that's what the current interpretation leads him to. Expect part 2 of the Power-Based Training article some time over the next few weeks.

Anyway, as is often the case, Grumpy Bob trailed out to the garage at 6am this morning for a Level 2 turbo session (here Level 2 is referring to heart rate level 2). The snow lay crisp, fairly deep, and pretty damned even. But the garage wasn't too bad, especially with a fan heater running. The big disappointment was another garage puncture after about 45 minutes. Grumpy Bob needs to keep another "Puncture Bob" scoresheet in 2010 - it certainly seems as though most of his punctures occur in the garage, either while turbo training, or deflations resulting from slow punctures incurred on the road.

Ho hum, business as usual.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Grumpy Bob survives the New Year '10'

A low turn out of five riders for this year's North Bucks New Year '10', ridden on a gloriously sunny but very cold morning on the F5d/10.  Reports at the NBRC and Flies&Bikes websites.

Grumpy Bob is pleased on two counts - he felt his performance was good (particularly compared with last year's 25:22), and he enjoyed giving his new TT bike a thorough testing.  He likes it, though it seems more twitchy at low speed - fine while racing.

He still felt overweight and bulbous...

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