What’s up Squid Fans, what a month or so it has been since I last wrote one of these stupid blogs rather than the excellent words of our Spotlight guests. We have had such a fantastic response to those interviews- in a world of YouTube, Instagram and Podcasts I think it’s nice to have a quiet read sometimes.
Something that has been on my mind for a while now, and was certainly intensified after chatting to Red Walters for the Podcast, was the idea to try and work with some brands that we as riders and people like.
As I’ve stated before, TCC was not set up by myself or Ed or joined by Seb to make lots of money and try and sell as much stuff as possible. It is a project born out of love for bikes, cycling, being creative and connecting with people. And TCC does all of that. As things have grown though- we decided it would be cool to be able to work with brands we love and feel share the same ideals as us. It also means we get our hands on cool products and get to ride and talk about them, which is great. We certainly aren’t the polished article but feel that is what makes us TCC- it’s just mates riding bikes, and sharing that. And hopefully that’s the feel you get with these blogs- I share the good and the bad- because everyone is having a journey on their bike.
Giro therefore, have come onboard and sponsored us- which I am sure you’ve seen on our Instagram already. I won’t go into the same details on here because I want to ensure we always mix it up on our platforms. Check out our Instagram if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Needless to say, we are so excited and absolutely love the products Giro have sent us. We use their shoes and helmets already, so it was a no-brainer to work with them. We’ll be using their helmets, socks and shoes in many of our future rides and races, which you will see and hear plenty of- especially as I’ve got myself a new GoPro too.
Continental were also kind enough to send me and Harry (seeing as Seb doesn’t want to fit GP5000’s to his trail bike and Ed is slowly coming out of second child hibernation but needs some Zwift miles first) a set of the Limited Edition tan wall GP5000s to test out and give some opinions on. They kindly sent me some information I might like to share but it’s full of technical stuff and makes me sound like an advert- so instead I am going to tell you how they ride in a variety of situations. It’ll be weaved within other stuff I wanna talk about too, so hopefully it won’t just read like a stand-alone review. That would be boring.
On the note of reviewing- one thing I would LOVE to do is start reviewing bikes in the £1000-£3000 range, road, cx, MTB etc. So many reviews focus on the top end bikes and that’s great but it’s not the bike many people are actually after. So wouldn’t it be great to have some real world riders, riding them and talking about them- on terrain you ride on? Hearing about how a £10,000 S Works Epic handles in Squamish Canada does not relate to my life in many ways. So how about something for UK riders with less dollar to spend on a bike, because some of us don’t spend every single penny on bikes (Emma, my wife disagrees!). And also, £1000 is still a massive amount of money to spend on a bike for many people.
Just a thought- I have reached out to bike shops as I think it would be a great way to market yourself and get the name out to a wider audience. All it would take is a few demo bikes at a time. Haven’t heard anything back yet- but that is understandable seeing as they are so mad busy right now. If you own or work in a bikeshop and would like to do something, give me a shout.
This week saw my first ever venture into Time Trials. I’ve never been fussed by them- riding on dual carriage ways, on your own, doing well based mainly on how much power you have (and obviously being aero etc) and spending lots of money on expensive parts that make very little difference to your overall life and wellbeing (come at me TT nerds!). I can’t think of anything on a bike much worse.
This doesn’t mean I don’t understand and respect it, I love the nerdiness and science of it all- but as for riding and it being ‘my thing’- I’d take up running before that.
HOOOWWEEVVVERRR! I decided to take a TCC approach (give it a razz on the incorrect bike) and got way more than I bargained for.
Having joined the fabulous Crawley Wheelers and Crawley Wheelers Race Team for this ‘Season’ I have been amazed at just how much they put on and do for the wider cycling community as well as their members. I thought that if there was ever a chance I’d enjoy a TT- the club 10 would be it.
Based around the Horne circuit (where I had my baptism of scratch group handicap racing in the pouring rain last year) I thought it would be a great way to get a decent effort in and meet other members and organisers and put faces to names. The circuit is brilliant, with smooth, quiet roads, it doesn’t have the same dual carriage way vibes I despise so much. It means for slower times, but anyone going to a TT on a cross bike isn’t too bothered about that!
It was such a bizarre feeling- that one where your subconcious knows their is a race coming up even if you aren’t activiely thinking about it. But as the day draws on, you start to check the clock a little more often, you start thinking about the corners, about your pacing, your warm up. You check the kit twice as much as you would for an evening razz up with friends. It’s a strange not-nice but oh so lovely feeling of doing something ‘proper’ rather than just riding for the fun of it. As I drove to the course, I was trying to work out why it was so exciting. I felt really energised, nervous, excited, all at the same time. For what? To ride around some roads on my own. Yet the feeling was there and it was just as real as any other race I had done.
I came to the conclusion (between stressing if I had remembered to do my crank bolts up after swapping my chain rings) that it was the accountablity. Putting yourself out there in front of others and yourself. Putting on a number is a physical exercise in stepping up- holding yourself to account and doing your best. And that is exciting and scary. On Mitch Docker’s podcast recently he was talking to Luke Durbridge about excitement and fear being the same thing- you just choose whether you go with the positive or the negative. I can’t remember where it was from but I referenced it in another blog- but the idea of using and seeing ‘nerves’ as your body filling itself with fuel to use. I love that feeling, because it means that what you are about to do is exciting and the feeling afterwards is incredible. So, it was nice to have that feeling again!
I hadn’t put much thought into how to do a TT other than the day before i did a turbo session and angled my saddle down so I could get as aero as possible. I did it for about 30 seconds, checked the most important thing (it looked aero/good) and carried on with the session. I’ve been doing lots of VO2 stuff lately in preparation for cross and MTB stuff so just thought I’d go a bit below that effort and hold on for as long as I could. I decided on a few goals- main goal: 25 minutes something. Stretch Goal: 24 minutes something. it seemed like a big ask going for 25 mins- based on the fact I was riding my first TT, on a small 1X set up with dodgy gears and with corners. But I believed I could get pretty aero, had some good legs and felt my clothing was pretty slippery. I did the classic warm up- rode around for a bit, drank a bit, had a wee, and lined up. The atmopshere was superb, I cannot recommend CW enough for anyone looking for a club and especially anyone looking for their first club. You have such a range of people and abilities and it is so inviting and friendly. If anyone wants advice or help joining, just drop me a message!
Once lined up, the timer began counting down and I set off, fumbling to get clipped in as quickly as possible thanks to road pedals being not designed for such cross-like efforts. With no power meter, I set into what I judged to be a decent tempo and aero postion and before I knew it I had reacher the first turn, with loads of people either side of the road cheering, ringing cowbells and generally making the whole thing feel great. I hit the apex and focussed on getting in that aero position.
After the first stretch and still in my aero position, I checked the timer- I was 2 minutes in. I wasn’t wearing my heart rate monitor as I don’t need to look down to see I’m at max but I had a brief moment of “Oh shi…” but a few more minutes in I was holding that pace and getting more confident in the position.
As I said before, the course has nice smooth roads for the most part and I had set my latex tubes (see I do care about science) to 85/80psi. The GP5000s ran beautifully and took the edge off what bumps there were, to allow me to maintain my arms on the bars. They gave me a lot of confidence in the corners and I was able to carry a lot of speed. I use the black versions on my bike anyway and these are identical except for the siiiick tan walls. So I knew what to expect.
Pacing wise i think I did pretty well, certainly with this experience in the bag I can take the corners even quicker and there were a few slight junction hold ups. I began to fade slightly at the end but managed to break into the ‘I’m nearly done so I may as well make myself sick’ mode 30 seconds or so later. I wasn’t clock watching until the very end where I saw that I was towards the end of the course and had done around 22 minutes. This also spurred me on knowing that I could beat my main goal.
I managed to cross the line in 24:20 which I was really happy with. As is the case with every person who has done a TT- I immediately began to decipher what would make me quicker. I know with the current setup I’ve got and purely just with experience I can crack into 23’s but that was never the main goal- i felt I left it all out there for my first time and got a really pleasing result- based on how much training I manage a week and the equipment I have. I’m sure I’ll be back to do some more, but before then there’s much MTB and cross to be had!
One thing is for sure though- that is the hardest effort on a bike there is as far as I’m concerned. Just you and the bike and going as hard as you can, but pacing yourself. But going as hard as you can. But remember to pace…
IMPLODING AT 8000FT
Dramatic title but this was perhaps my greatest ever implosion on a bike- and there have been some good ones! I set out at the beginning of lockdown back in March to do an epic ride with over 10,000ft of climbing and over 100 miles round the biggest and best hills Sussex, Surrey and Kent has to offer in one loop. It ended up as 122 miles and around 11,000ft.
I picked a date with Harry and put the invite out to CWRT and was joined by Sam, Lee and Jallani. I knew this was going to mean it was a bit more of a razz up than intended but didn’t put much more thought into it.
Now, I am not going to list excuses and reasons as to why I imploded, I didn’t have the legs and that’s that. Those boys and Harry smashed it and I pulled the pin around mile 70 whilst creeping up Toys Hill. To the point where a bloke seemingly on a paper-run in his trainers and casual clothes zipped past me. I was tonked, gone. What felt like 350watts must have been 100 at most- I had 40/40 chainring/cassette set up and could barely get the pedals round. I ate well, drank well- I simply ran out of steam at around 3/4 hours. We then called it a day and headed back to complete around 100 miles of it- not what I had intended but I got way more of a training ride than if I had done it solo or just with Harry. It gave me that road race feeling again- where you know there isn’t going to be much rest and even in the draft you’re working hard. And then you hit a massive climb. I love that stuff, because you know you’re gonna come away from it faster. Even if it means being overtaken my a man in trainers and a t shirt whilst you’re in a skinsuit. ha!
It was superb training and really finished my legs off- I wasn’t anywhere close to what I know I can do but that happens sometimes! The TT and hard training (for me) is working wonders but has its limits with fatigue etc. I can’t wait to get out more with CWRT both on and off road and really keep pushing myself, as there are stupidly fast people in all deparments. It is going to be great fun to race with them.
Harry was rapid as always and really showed some great skill on the descents too- Sam (not me) is the fastest person I’ve ever seen go down a hill on a bike and Harry was close behind- pushing those GP5000s to their limits and he had this to say about them:
“The TCC Elevate challenge proved to be the perfect testing ground for the new GP5000s sent to us by Contintenal. These tyres had a hard act to follow with their predecessors being widely considered as one of the best tyres on the market. After only an hour of riding the tyres saw their first true test as I rode into a patch of road which closely resembled the Mariana trench. To all of our surprise the tyres were unscathed, the same could not be said for my arse. They continued to perform faultlessly throughout the remainder of the ride and gave me a load of confidence through the fast, technical Surrey descents.”
Harry did indeed hit a pothole so hard I thought he had gone over the bars by the sounds of it- but he didn’t even get a flat! We have both been very impressed with our time using them so far and looking forward to getting out on them some more! They certainly look amazing on the bikes and have stayed really clean- I’ve been swapping chainrings, cassettes and all manner of greasy tasks and the tyres were accidentally held and touched many times. They cleaned up perfectly, which is nice. They are certainly brighter than Vittoria Corsas, make of that what you will.
For me, they are the perfect blend of speed, reliablility and looks- so you can’t ask for much more than that from an every day riding and racing all-rounder! They don’t appear to cut up as much as my Corsas do either.
One final thing I wanted to mention was the sheer amount of cyclists I am seeing out at the moment. It is such a brilliant thing- whether they be experienced or setting out on their first ride. There is most definitely a momentum at the moment and I really think we need to do everything we can as cyclists to encourage and help others to keep at it and help them enjoy it.
Whatever people want to ride or wear, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are on a bike, not being a dick and being safe- that’s good with me! Wearing a helmet is a bit of a no brainer for me though (ironic) and the ‘don’t be a dick’ rule covers many bases that sometimes people need pointing out.
Smile, say hi, give help when needed, interact with drivers, walkers, horse riders in a positive way- represent the cyclist as best you can. People quickly change their attitude when you drop your guard and approach things in a way other than “I’m allowed so up yours!”
Just a thought.
No Gravel Chaser 4 yet- we want to wait for full clearance to do it properly but until then, we’ll be riding and racing as much as we can. I’m on the hunt for my new MTB but it may have to wait till spring due to availability.
Make sure you check the next Chasers Podcast out where we’ll go into a bit more depth with my implosion and Harry’s mad descending skills- he hasn’t got the fear yet. Please do check out our store www.thechaserscollective.co.uk (you’re already on it if you’re reading this!) and support us- we put all profits back into making more things- that’s the fun of it! Tees are all cheap and perfect for wearing on the bike, as seen below ->