I’m showing you these now because by tomorrow they will be…

New red bar tape
Not a bad job if I say so myself!

I’m proudly showing you my handiwork with the shiny new red bar tape now, because by tomorrow they will be covered in (check all that apply)…

  • road grime (dead cert)
  • rain (odds-on favourite at 1:20)
  • snow (outsider at 10:1)
  • slush (good each way bet)
  • blood (red colour will camouflage nicely)
  • sweat (yes, even in these conditions)
  • tears (quite probable depending on the “hill work” situation)
  • “nose tears” (sorry, it’s that time of year)
  • “mouth tears” (oh, please)
  • chain oil (bound to happen)
  • rips (fate has been tempted)
  • sellotape (where the bits of tape they provide in the box are unable to stand up to all the above).

Feel free to add your own! One thing they definitely won’t be covered in is… dust…

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And so farewell Leopard Trek … bib tights

Leopard Trek Leggings

You were my first winter bottoms and took me around as I was forged into the toughened specimen that I am now. You didn’t make me time trial like Cancellara, or climb like Andy Schleck (back in the day), or even vice versa.

Perhaps:

  • yes, you were a Chinese replica copy bought on Ebay;
  • your “genuine Coolmax(Tm)” pad was actually not quite the real deal;
  • three and a half years is asking a lot of any garment;
  • the little Fuscii would laugh at you: “Daddy why do you have a zero on your bottom?!” (actually, good question).

But we shared some times… And cyclefucius would also not like to be cast aside in old age, but lately sitting on you is like sitting on … nothing.

cyclefucius has pondered different options such as replacing the offending pad or putting padded shorts underneath.

Let it go, grasshopper, let it go. My butt and associated parts are delicate and inevitably endangered by lengthy sessions in even the most comfortable of saddles. They deserve if not the best then at least the most adequate money can buy. When the pad goes, you are wearing … tights. Biking in tights cannot be good.

Your matching top is still good (new zip and still fleecy). But alas you must now be relegated to other winter pastimes. Not many got closer than you… Thank you, my friend, time to retire gracefully…

Breaking! Cyclist attacked by mud

Muddy cycling shoes

I have to admit I am not the sort who goes out actively looking for mud. Maybe I am more of a tourist than a hardcore mountain biker. Cross? Great to watch with a beer.

I am also not the person in the Fucius household who does most of the washing.

But cyclefucius would not be cyclefucius if he did not ponder the fact that there are some necessary skills to be learned here.

Snow is melting right now giving a perfect blancmange of slush, ice and mud to challenge the cyclefucius bike-handling abilities. One day I may do a “cornering” post – something that doesn’t seem to come naturally, but which we are working on. (Be water, my friend…)

But actually – go figure – mountain bikes and tyres are actually designed to keep you upright in this type of situation. It was kind of fun.

For a while. After a few seconds, we discover that mountain bikes and tyres are also designed to spray fluid of varying degrees of opacity and viscosity up into the air, face, boots, backside, saddle, moving bike parts, cars, joggers, hikers and any other mountain flora and fauna.

cyclefucius has a particular issue with glasses at the moment – at the first sign of cyclefucius industrial strength perspiration, they steam up; at the second sign, the perspiration transfers itself onto the inside of the lenses. Couple this internal attack with the external attack launched from the tyres and the problem was not navigating the corners, but seeing the corners.

Yes it was fun. Kind of. But if any evidence were needed that cyclefucius does not have any Belgian ancestry, this is it. Roll on Spring.

Smooth operator takes on disk brake maintenance

DT Swiss Wheels

Sometimes it seems to cyclefucius that mountain bikes are looking more and more like motorbikes. Huge forks, fat tyres and the dreaded disk brakes.

Now, cyclefucius has no experience of motorbikes. But imagines that they must be somewhat similar to cars and need servicing maybe a couple of times a year.

Not so the disk brakes on cyclefucius’s off-road setup. I won’t share here the name of the maker of the dreaded stoppers, but they need more attention than a neglected puppy.

Back in the day when said machine was acquired there wasn’t the wealth of knowledge to choose from posted on YouTube by nice Canadian men. The first days of ownership required various returns to the local bike shop for: bubbles in the system (pro tip: never turn machine upside down), floppy levers (pro tip 2: always use those little spacer things when taking off wheels – the hydraulic elves love to press the levers and make you force open the brake pads), and/or grabby brakes (cyclefucius heard recently that the young Chris Froome used to ride up mountains in Kenya with brakes applied in order to emulate Tour de France mountain passes – why he didn’t select a higher gear is beyond me – but at that rate cyclefucius must have a few “hors cat├ęgories” in his legs courtesy of Mr Sram – OK, you got me).

Given all this, cyclefucius got to the point of never going anywhere near the little white wannabe motorbike spares, once approaching anything near a proper set up. So the brake pads have been worn down to ear-watering, tooth-juddering, air-cleaving, metal-melting microns in order to avoid interference.

This was not going to last for long. And the showdown came the other day when cyclefucius’s off-road activities came to a sudden halt. Ironically on the road, doing the right thing trying to make eye contact with a driver arriving at a junction apparently in rehearsals for a role in “Tommy” and crashing into the raised kerb of a bus stop. (No, not the actual bus stop.)

Puncture, but wheel survived relatively unscathed. However, once returned to its place, Chris Froome brake syndrome took over and the return home became Tourmalet.

As ever, cyclefucius likes to try the self-sufficient approach. New brake pads and then let’s see if professional help needed.

Let’s do this. I am sure that the pads are designed to be replaceable without removing the wheel but perhaps the face-melting excess of wear makes this impossible. So wheels off. Bike steadfastly right way up (see above). Old bits out. Quick clean. New pads go in. Little spacey things do their job (see also above). Wheels go on. And of course fail to rotate. Squeeze brakes a few times like it says in the manual. Still no rotation.

But cyclefucius has pro tip 3 at his disposal: in the absence of rubber bands, tie brake levers tight with shoelaces, loosen the little Allen bolt things to allow realignment to take place (pro tip 4: the ones at the back not the ones at the side where fluid falls out if you unscrew them), pump a few times, re-tighten, pray.

And … rotation restored. Not a miracle. cyclefucius has learned something over various years of bubbly, floppy, grabby, tinkering times. Not to be beaten. Maybe I should do a video. But … for sure … next bike will definitely not have these particular ones. And road bikes really shouldn’t either.

Wet shoes, excuses and the fundamental laws of cycling

Wet shoes

Wow, shoes still sodden after riding in the rain the day before.

First thoughts:

  1. riding is impossible in those – by tomorrow they will be acceptably dry;
  2. probably they will break – by tomorrow, risk to wallet will be eliminated;
  3. wet feet means huge loss of performance – tomorrow it will be much improved;
  4. I will get sick – best wait till tomorrow;
  5. last session was great, perhaps bring the rest day forward – and make up for it tomorrow.

No, no, no, no and no. Squelch them carefully on and get out. Tomorrow it will snow. Tomorrow you will fall off and not be able to train. Tomorrow you will get a huge project at work from a tycoon. Tomorrow you may actually get sick. If you wuss out of riding then you are messing with these fundamental laws of the cycling universe (these laws also include the rotating headwind, the magnetic hill, Lombard’s paradox, and needing to answer nature’s call immediately after swaddling yourself in about three layers of winter wear).

Of course, the main addressee of this post is … myself.