Posted on

LEJOG ride for Habitat for Humanity

We are helping 2 University of Bath students with a ride they are doing for the charity ‘Habitat for Humanity‘, read on for more on their challenge and the helping hand we are giving their charity cause.  They’d also appreciate sponsorship so please do give if this charity does it for you, it did for us which is why we are helping out!

About Us

We are Tom Laight and Tim Traynar, engineering students at the University of Bath, and both long-term bicycle fanatics. In 2011, we decided to start planning a grueling cycling trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End, both as a personal challenge and as a fundraising event for Habitat for Humanity.

The Challenge

The journey from John O’Groats in the Scottish Highlands to Land’s End at the tip of Cornwall is famous for being the nearly 1000-mile trip which runs the entire length of Great Britain. In June 2012, we plan to spend two weeks cycling from one end of our island to the other in order to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. We’ve both loved riding bikes for as long as we can remember and so, even though our normal preference is for the muddier side of cycling, we felt that riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End would be a great challenge to pit ourselves against. Being able to use this as an opportunity to raise money for a very worthwhile charity really is the icing on the cake.

The Charity

Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide charity that champions the rights of every human being to have clean water, education, healthcare and above all, a decent place to live. But more than this, they take real action to work with local communities all over the world to help build long-term solution to housing problems. Since being founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has helped over 2.5 million people to renovate, repair or build more than 500,000 homes across the globe.

Green Park Bike Station

Tom Jenkins, owner of Green Park Bike Station in Bath, has been a great help in preparation for this challenge. We have received help in many forms, including Tom’s professional expertise along with supply of important equipment such as Blackburn seatpost-mounted luggage racks, Elite water bottles and Lezyne bottle cages, Elite chamois cream and a spare Michelin tyre, just in case! The Bike Station has also kindly offered a complimentary bike service to make sure our machines are in top condition before we set off.

Have a look at our blog (address below) for forthcoming mini-reviews of the products from the Bike Station and links to our Just Giving page, where you can sponsor us.

Blog: tomntimcycling@blogspot.com

Just Giving: www.justgiving.com/tomntimcycling

Posted on

Kinesis Virsa Steel Mountain Bike Build

The Kinesis Virsa mtb is based around highly regarded Tange Prestige Japanese double butted steel tube set.  This gives the ride of the bike that steel ‘spring’ which is ideal when zinging along twisty singletrack.

The reviewers have certainly given it a thumbs up.  Since the review the Brighton based Kinesis designers, who test all their products extensively on the South Downs, have upgraded key parts of the frame, bit more on this later.

I’ve had the frame for a few months and had been saving up to get various parts for it.  It had to be a ‘British’ inspired bike being a true home grown brand with a growing reputation for ride quality.  So I of course opted for Hope kit, which as well as being totally machined and made in the UK by hand has a great reputation as well.  They recently released a seatpost so that was pretty fortuitous as it meant that all the finishing kit parts on the bike could be based on Hope.  The only parts that couldn’t be British were the drivetrain which had to be Shimano for sturdiness, slickness and great value.

The next big thing on a mountain bike is the suspension and I had been reading great things about X-fusion who have actually been around since 1999, but only recently started to go into selling their products aftermarket.  They’ve picked up some rave reviews recently, so I was very keen to get a fork that customers could try out as a demo with a view to potentially purchasing them.  The fork I got was a Velvet RL120 fork upgraded to 130mm travel, its tapered which adds more stiffness at the steering interface.  Its also stiff at the axle with its 15mm screw through upgrade. The larger diameter headtube is one area Kinesis recently upgraded on the frame, to allow for a new generation of tapered forks.

The wheels are definitely a crucial rider / terrain interface and I wanted to do something a bit different here.  It was to be my first foray into tubeless, well I had to take the plunge sometime!  Just my luck that WTB very recently released some very reasonably priced (26.99) UST compliant rims with regular spoke holes that can be easily built up into a user friendly tubeless wheelset.   These rims are 23mm wide so will make the tyre balloon nicely for a very grippy ride.  So I opted for nice gold Hope Pro 2 hubs, with that colour running throughout the bike as it pairs up with green nicely.  The rims built up very easily, although the offset spoke holes provided some spoke length calculator fun and games!  Setting up the tyres (UST WTB Bronsons 2.3) onto the rims was so simple, just whack on some special rim tape, add a valve core, pop the tyres on and inflate – well in practice, and now I know having had lots of practice.  What you need to make sure is that you have the tyres on the right way before you inflate (most tyres are directional).  When you remove these tubeless tyres, if you do get it wrong, the rim strip gets ruffled up rendering it pretty useless.  So my advice is if you go for these get it right first time and you’ll have no trouble at all inflating.  Its going to be really interesting to try out this wheelset at pressures lower than 30 psi, with no risk of pinch flats and no worries about thorn / stone punctures as the sealant will do its duty.

The bike’s drivetrain is full 10spd XT, so its pretty light and also very slick.  The brake system is Hope Tech X2 which is supposedly their lightweight cross country / light freeride offering, but its pretty beefy especially with the 180mm upgraded floating rotor upfront.   A new innovation on this frame is at the rear brake calliper which mounts into a pair of slotted holes. This means that if you ever wanted to use the horizontal swopout dropouts to run singlespeed or hub gears you can remove the wheel easily thanks to the slotted holes.

Finally the pedals have to be the most bling bit of the bike.  I knew the Vault pedals were good but wait till you see and feel them in the flesh, they are so nice!  And in this case so green!

The bike is available to take out to specifically try out the forks, but also the frame, tubeless wheels, pedals and so on.  The Virsa is available as a ‘ready to ride’ package with different specs, but if you want something a bit different then why not build your dream steel hardtail around an award winning frame / fork combo!

 

Posted on

Breeze Bath

Talitha is one of the organisers of Breeze Bath women only rides, she will be posting blog updates here about getting more women out cycling in and around Bath. 

BreezeBath is a new group organising all-inclusive bike rides for women, led by women! The idea is to create a friendly relaxed environment to get women of all ages and abilities out riding their bikes!

 I’m one of four British Cycling accredited Breeze ride leaders in the Bath area, and we are running rides every few weeks in and around the city, on mostly traffic free routes. Most will be on weekends, but Fiona, one of our ride leaders, hopes to be running a few Thursday morning rides timed perfectly for mums after the school run.

 Our first few rides have been great fun, although the weather hasn’t been kind! Last weekend, 8 of us headed out into the rain along Colliers Way, from Dundas Aqueduct. Everyone kept smiling despite the continuous downpour, and we all welcomed a much-needed coffee at The AngelFish café at the end of the ride.

Well earned rest

Our main information hub can be found at

www.facebook.com/BreezeBath

 Or on Twitter, by following @oddbydefault or searching for #BreezeBath

 More information about the Breeze Network from British Cycling (along with how to find other Breeze Groups throughout the country) can be found at:

 www.breezebikerides.com

 We plan to keep the blog updated with more Breeze happenings as our inaugural year progresses! 

Posted on

Missing Link

Local Sustrans Rangers who look after traffic free National Cycle Network routes recently organised a work day to clear the way for Frome’s ‘missing link.’  I’ve been a Ranger for over 7 years and done lots of work days – they’re great fun and rewarding. Local Ranger Geoff sent us this report of their latest work day, which looked super rewarding!  Show your support to them in any way you can – they’re doing great things!

A work weekend organised by local volunteers was a great success. Nearly 40 volunteers braved the cold on Saturday and 25 the ice on Sunday to hack through head high brambles and undergrowth to restore grassland and clear the way for the first part of the Missing Link path. Some travelled from Bristol, one man from Sussex visiting his girlfriend was roped in, and even people out for a Sunday walk joined in.

It was a great demonstration of public support and their will to see the project succeed. They enjoyed themselves so much that many asked to come back again so another weekend was arranged for 25/26th February. The workdays have been a great success with the first 720 metres of the Link on land already owned by national charity Sustrans cleared.  To join the Chain Gang please see www.fromesmissinglink.org.uk

 

Posted on

Bike It – Sustrans school cycling

Bike It is a hugely successful project that encourages children to cycle to school.  The local Bike It office Jim Imeson has written the piece below about his work in BaNES.

There are 22 Sustrans Bike It schools in Bath and North East Somerset and since I began working as a Bike It officer at these schools three years ago, the percentage of pupils who regularly cycle to schools has increased form an average of 7% to 28%. Bike It is a Sustrans project funded by the Traffic Safety Team at B&NES Council and NHS B&NES which aims to promote a healthy, active and sustainable lifestyle to our young people. I work with Bike It schools to run cycling and scooting events like skills training in playgrounds, organising Bike Buses to school, setting up Bike Breakfasts and teaching maintenance skills. I work closely with parents and staff to help transition towards a positive cycling culture at each of my schools which are a mixture of primary and Junior schools like St Michael’s in Twerton, Newbridge, St John’s in Oldfield Park, St Philip’s and St Martin’s Garden in Odd Down and secondary schools including Beechen Cliff, Wellsway and Three Ways special school. I have teamed up with my Council colleague Chris Revill in Play Services to assist him running Wheels for All which is an amazing scheme to allow all children and adults, regardless of their needs, to the experience the thrill of cycling by using the Council’s fleet of adapted cycles.

Sometimes all a school needs is a bit of a kick start, Sustrans worked with the Council to fund a huge bike shelter for Beechen Cliff and now this is often overflowing with bikes! Beechen Cliff are offering their students Level 3 Bikeability training which is funded by the Council. This is advanced cycle training provided by Cycling Instructor and it equips our young people with the skills and confidence to cycle safely and it helps reassure parents which is very important. The Spring and Summer terms are really busy with me and I’ll be running events everyday with my schools such as a Newbridge year 5 bike ride to Bitton and back, BMX coaching for girls at Wellsway and the really exciting Sustrans national virtual bike race with ten or so of my schools representing B&NES this year:
www.thebigpedal.org.uk