What to do when its icy outside

Albert, views it all in disgust.

Its happened twice now. Twice I have entered a 200km GPS Audax, and on both occasions I have had to cancel when I got up in the morning. For a 200km on a Sunday, I have to set off at 4am, otherwise Im not back in time to make Sunday dinner.

Lately, its been very mild indeed on the island, infact this year, I have only had to walk into work twice, so perhaps I am getting a bit cavalier about it all. Jack Frost, and his pal Mr Snowy put paid to my hard planning. I got up, went outside to get Enid, and nearly slipped over. Mr Snowy had deposited his load all over the place, and then chickened out, partly melted and invited Jack Frost over for a final beer before bed.

When its icy at 100m, its usually mega icy at 400m+ My Audax, was to be coastal, but end up on the mountain by 3pm, just when the sun is starting to get his pj’s out. It was not to be. Again, that is, not to be a 200km.

Feeling guilty about all the cake, chocolate, biscuits, toast and marmalade I had yesterday in preparation for today, I walked back indoors with a grizzly look. I thought I would wait until 7am and see if a thaw was to occur. Well, it wasnt. Ah… but, what have I been putting off for ages, and ages.

Today, Hettie would have her new clothes!

Hettie before I got into vandalising her

Please excuse that rotten floor, it doesn’t look that disgusting in real life, its a natural stone, and it doesnt look good in photographs so I have discovered. 

Why was she getting all this attention? She is just 2 years old, and has covered 10,000 of summer time miles. I am learning as I go along regarding bicycle maintenance, and some one told me, you never change the chain, let the whole lot wear out, and replace it all. So, I thought I would have years and years of usage of this great chainset. Last year I cycled Lands End to John O Groats, and before this ride, I had the indexing checked as Hettie had started to think I wasnt as fit as I should be. She thought perhaps that changing gear as we cycled up hills, into a much harder gear would be fun.

The indexing worked to a point, and during my ride up the middle of the UK, the boys who worked for the cycleholiday firm I had booked with, spent far too long of their personal time setting and resetting my indexing for me. Hettie and I managed the ride, but when she got home, she went on strike and refused to work in the gears I chose anymore.

Not to worry, it was October by now, and Hettie was set up for hibernation. Hubby took a good look at her chainset. “You’ve worn that out good and proper lass’. And so I set about getting her new gear.

There were 9 speeds with similar gearing to Hetties available, but as I was re-dooing everything, why not upgrade to a 10sp? It will be a good learning curve. Hettie had been a 9 sp, with a rear ratio of 12/29 with a 50/34 up front. By going to a 13/29 I will be giving my tough legs a wee rest with a slighly lower up hill gear at the back. I am keeping her 50/34. It suits the hills on the island.

THing is, moving from 9sp to 10 sp, isnt just about replacing cassettes, you need different set up on the ergo controls as well. Mick suggested I sent my controls to Mercian, and they could upgrade them I was not confident to do this myself. But in the end, I purchased a brand new set of 10sp controls in that famous auction site.

Hetties handlebars have always been too big for me. This was an ideal opportunity to get them stripped back, and replaced with a smaller set, which I am hoping I might be able to use more fully. Currently I cannot reach the drops on Hettie.

Here are the new bars:

They are Bontrager VR – C and have a much shallower drop and shorter reach

But before it all got started I procrastonated. Its hard when you dont know where to begin…

Tea… where would we be without it?

My new ergo controls were a good price, and they arrived complete and brand new. First job was to try to read the instructions without my glasses (at work…) and to try to make sense of the dreadful diagrams Campagnolo assume you understand. About 40 minutes later, after much brain scratching and mugs of tea, this was discovered:

There it is, the little torx screw you had to undo (once you finally found it) to get the controls onto the bars to secure up again.

I was happy enough once they were fitted in place onto the new bars. Next job, was dismantling Hetties old bars and removing them. Oh, its hard to start stripping off the old Brooks leather bar tape, these bars have been a long way with me, I hope Im doing the right thing. And I hope there is some improvement. I dearly hope I dont have to book her into the LBS before the close of this exercise too. 

Here they are in place, and I am feeling rather chuffed with myself so far.

Hetties bars before….

And after:

Removal of the gear cabling

Yes, its all change, even my beloved Brooks has been removed.

The Brooks saddle has also been removed, not sure what I am going to do with it. This saddle is fine for me for rides up to about 100km or 63 miles, but I cant do with it for any longer than that. I have replaced beauty for the Beast. Hettie will be sporting a similar saddle to Enid. Its black, its HUGE and its ugly as anything, but I dont need to stand up for the final 10 miles of a 200km ride with it, I can ride without padded shorts (for rides up to about 60 miles). Comfort has beaten a cosmetic appearance. Poor Hettie, she isnt very pleased about it.

FInally, I ended up stripping the handlebars, removing all Hetties old cabling (taking lots of pictures so I know where it all went, as it will be some time before Im back to complete the picture as I am waiting for a cassette and a new stem to fit later. Luckily him with a big bag of tools was in his shed tinkering with a motorbike, and suggested we removed the cassette. Very pleased to hear this, as I have no upper body strength and was dreading the removal of this. Anyway, it was a piece of cake! Chain whip on, pressure opposite with a locking device on the cassette, and suddenly it was loose and it was off! I thought this would be a much more convoluted experience.

Getting that old cassette off

Finally here she is, naked and forlorn:

Shes almost naked

I have told her, things will improve (she is yet to be convinced). That new toys are on their way.. (She continued to pout) and that the new saddle will bed in and be comfortable soon. She turned her back…

To be continued…..