Sunday, November 18, 2012

The brevet ride report - 200 km on 20 inches

Gokul shares his experience of the 200km brevet ride that he rode last week.


I have never been a fan of riding in night even from my motorcycling days. Added to the fact that the longer brevet rides included riding in the night with little or no sleep didn’t make me too excited about Brevets longer than 200 Km. The Hyderabad Brevet started last November and I was out of town for the 200Km weekend and missed it. I was quite excited about the it this time. While we were in the process of evaluating the Dahon folding bikes, it just stuck me that it would be quite nice to try it on a Dahon. Krish was very excited and we immediately decided to convert one of our shining new DahonVitesse D7 bikes to a rental.

Truth be told I was a little sceptical as I had not ridden folding bikes too often. I had commuted for a week or so on the Btwin Hoptown folding bike, but that was two years back. Raman was very confident that I should be able to do it pointing me to Dr.Ramana who had done many long rides on his Dahon. Raman & Krish however suggested that I swap the saddle as that might be a pain point. I had planned to do a 40km ride to iron out any adjustments, but was too tired the day before the brevet and skipped the ride. But I did get to commute (a 5km ride to the shop). Nothing much to give you any confidence really. But I just decided to go ahead with the plan anyways. One disadvantage with riding the Vitesse was that there were no quick releases to easily remove the wheel. Well I prayed to the puncture Gods to spare me for my first brevet.


Registration process at TBA


It was convenient that the brevet started from The BikeAffair and the route was a fairly regular route for us. However when I arrived at the shop was quite surprised to see the buzz and realized that we had very few volunteers to take care of the 30 odd riders. It wasn't much of a surprise that we got to push off 10-15 mins after the scheduled start.


Get Set ... Goooo

The ride strategy was quite simple, that I would stop much less (hopefully only twice) and ride at a consistent pace. Chitti Babu and Faiyaaz planned to ride with me. At the start point I could sense the excitement as all the riders really zipped off and were not wasting any time. We settled into a nice rhythm and got on to the ORR service road. Soon Ajendra joined us and our group size increased to 4. The ORR service road is a well paved road, but has many of these unending series of Lilliputian speed breakers. They rank right up there among the most irritating things on a road.

Ajendra, Faiyaaz, Gokul (left to right)
The ride was reasonably event less but for a dog incident. I am scared of dogs and when we found one in the middle of the road I shouted out to the others. Ajendra took this as a cue to go close to the dog and scare the hell out of it. It promptly sprinted across the road and given my phobia I watched the dog rather than a way around it and lo and behold I hit it and fell down. Thankfully nothing much happened. Since I hit the dog, the front wheel was slightly out of true – a two minute job for Chitti who was smart enough to get a spoke wrench.

Soon after we reached the Bangalore highway Ajendra broke away and the rest of us rode together. We took a breakfast break at Jadcherla which was about 90km from start. We were joined by the ever energetic Rajasekar who ended up covering the entire distance on his car with his camera covering the ride. I tried to keep the break as short as possible, but our choice of place wasn’t great and we ended up spending about 40 mins there. We were still on target and weren’t too concerned. Just when we were about to start I saw Gopi Krishna (mechanic) taking on a bus driver for rash driving like only he can. Before we could go upto them the dispute got resolved and the ride continued. The rest of the ride upto the turnaround point was very fast, I was attributing it to the breakfast and break. Logic should have pointed me that a simple dosa and salty sambar is no EPO.

Raj catches myself in his rear view camera
It was nice to know that we had moved from dead last at the beginning of the ride to around the middle of the pack. I ensured that we didn’t get too carried away and pushed off from the turnaround point without much ado. Chitti was really controlling himself and told me that he will push off at the turnaround point and I was quite relieved to allow him to ride freely.

At the turn around point (100 km mark)


So it would be myself and Faiyaaz riding till the end. Faiyaaz is a really nice guy and a very charming company to ride with. The plan was to stop for lunch around Shaadnagar which was about 50km before the end point. The first 15 kms or so after the turnaround point made us realize that it was not the breakfast but the downhill and tailwinds which had helped us breeze to the turnaround point.

The road was easier after the first 15kms and we rode consistently upto lunch @ Shaadnagar. By this time I had got completely used to my Dahon and realized that it was quite a nice bike to ride. Leaving out the fact that the top gear was not big enough and the posture was not aerodynamic it was an excellent ride. I would actually rate it faster than a MTB and probably very close to a hybrid for long distances. Infact if there were more climbs the folder would be a better bet than a hybrid.

We met Zihan, Ramana, Satish at lunch stop and Ramakrishna joined us a little later. I was focussed at having a quick stop and wasn’t too successful as I had a great chat with Fiayaaz over lunch and we had to literally pull ourselves and get onto the saddle.

By this time we started setting small goals and the sight of ORR was the next target. Just before we got onto the service road we caught up with Ramana and Satish. After we got on to the service road I needed a 5 min break and we lost Ramana and Satish. We saw Zihaan and his friend struggling with a rear flat and Ramana was helping him. We stopped by and ensured that they were good to be back on the road. After that we started upping our pace and Zihaan, myself and Faiyaaz rode together to the end.

Myself and Faiyaaz

I couldn’t thank Faiyaaz enough as he was great company through out. Even though I started off very strongly, there was not much of a difference between our speeds on the return and we complemented each other very well till the end.



Well it takes just one ride to realize that on such endurance rides it is the company which is the most important aspect. And I was quite fortunate to have great company in Faiyaaz, Chitti, Ajendra and Rajasekar. Thank you guys.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HCC 2012/11 - A Race Report


Gokul shares his experience of the HCC 2012/11 75km Road Race here - 

The  November  race in medchal road was the longest, farthest and probably one of the best organized races of HCC. The start point was moved beyond the toll booth to avoid any race pile ups. Along with the crisp morning air we were greeted by a huge number of volunteers in two booths with all the registration paraphernalia and the podium goodies.

Registration desk  and refreshment counter

Goodies if you can get on to the podium.
Having got very little sleep the night before I was thankful to Mackinlay Baretto for the ride. We picked up Ram Swaroop and Jeeta Ram on the way at Dhola Ri Dhani. While I was semi-awake in the car we noticed Richard McDowell drafting a truck in the dark.

On reaching the venue, we went on a nice warm up ride with my teammate Chitti Babu. I knew that the first 10-15 kms was downhill and the start would be fast. While all the registration and other details were handled well and done in time we were one driver short for Raj who was the designated photographer and had to wait for 10 mins for the last volunteer to come in.

As soon as the race kicked off there seemed to be a moment of hesitation from everyone in the typical “pehle aap” mode. But suddenly Jeeta Ram upped the tempo and a pace line formed with Jeeta Ram, Raman, Richard and myself. 


A few seconds after the start

Was a tad disappointed that Chitti did not manage to join the pace line. I knew that I was not strong enough to do any work and was happy to suck a few wheels. After about a km or so Ramswaroop just powered his way to join us.


I just managed to suck a few wheels for around 6 km

The group kept going at a high speed for some time and then slowed down for a breather. It almost felt like a interval training session. I was somehow able to stick on for about 6 kms after which the speed was too high for me to hold onto the pack and got dropped off.

But the pace was too high, and I got dropped
But was quite happy to note that I couldn’t really see anyone behind me and reckoned that I had gained a few mins on the guys behind me.Km 20 to the turnaround point had more climbs of the rolling terrain and I was not really sure how much to push as I had no rider in sight to understand how others were doing. A few kms before the turnaround point I saw Jeeta Ram and Ram Swaroop powering there way down together.

Jetharam and Ramswaroop

I saw Richard a few minutes later alone and Raman had pulled up to the side of the road. The turnaround point helped me get a better understanding of my relative position and the gaps of the guys ahead and behind me. Chitti was about a minute behind me and Ramakrishna was about 2 mins behind me. I would have loved to slow down and have my teammate Chitti join me, but Ramakrishna was too close and we risked falling behind, so just continued on my way. Also I realized that since Raman had dropped off I was 4th at that stage and kept pushing myself as I could get into the podium if one of the guys ahead had any mechanical problems.

The first 15 kms after the turnaround had more downhill sections and speeds were higher. I felt an odd tingle in my right calf, tried a couple of stretches while riding but couldn’t do much in a race. I didn’t realize I wasn’t drinking enough water or gatorade. I saw Mahesh and Suma at the feeding station, but had enough food and water on me already, so just kept chugging along. I did munch on my energy bar and realized that I had done a good thing in opening it before I started the race as it made it much easier to eat it.

I spent the rest of the race alone just looking at my cyclo comp and trying to get my average speed up. The right calf tinge started to happen a little more often, but I ignored it. Finally I was glad to see the finish line and heard the volunteers shout out to me to finish in a hurry. I stood up and was about to sprint when my right calf cramped badly, I just had a couple of 100ms to go and had a cramped right calf. I couldn’t even cleat on the right leg and had a sharp pain. Some volunteers suggested that I walk the rest, but I waited as I drifted on the existing momentum. Even at that moment of anguish something sparked in me and I started pedalling with my left leg while my right leg was dangling harmlessly away from the pedals.
Dragging myself to the finish line
As soon as I stopped the Doctor came rushing in and helped me stretch to control the cramps. Overall I was happy with my standing and glad that I cramped up at the finish line and not earlier. A big thank you to all the volunteers . Would also like to thank Sphere Fitness and Sports( distributor for Sigma lights and computers, Vredestein tires and tubes, Forza bike components), Ozone Ventures( distributor for Bergamont bikes, Schwalbe tires and tubes,Vincita pannier and saddle bags and Bion Computers), Akslen  and Zixtro for all the free goodies. We really appreciate the support.

Race Results



Winners - Jetharam(centre), Raswaroop(left), Richard McDowell(Right)
Race Results

Contributed by Gokul Krishna


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Workshop - Fix A Flat

This is repetition of the same workshop that we had conducted on  09 June 2012. This workshop is open to everybody.



After this session , you will be able to

a) Understand the types of flats and ways to prevent them.
b) Dismount and install the the front and the rear wheels properly
c) Fix a flat (detecting punctures, patching them up )
d) Change a tube.

When : 03-Nov-2012, 9.30 am - 10.30 am.
What : Workshop on flat fixing and changing tubes.
Fees  : Free !
Location : The Bike Affair store, Kondapur

 To register, please send a mail to krish@thebikeaffair.com with subject 'Fix-A-Flat' . Mention your name and contact number in the mail.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

HCCC 2012/11 - 75 km Mass Start Road Race


The November 2012 Race  is almost here. This time a mass start Road Race. The 75 km race is going to  be the longest that has been ever been organised by HCC.




When   :    Sunday, 04Nov2012
What    :    HCCC 2012/11 - Road Mass Start
Where :     NH7
Distance :  75 km
Start point/meeting point : 20 km from Medchal(towards Nagpur), NH7. More details coming soon.
Race Fees    :  Rs.300/rider.
Registration : Registration and bib allocation will be at 6.30 am at Start/Meeting point. Race starts @7.15 am. To register for the event, you will need to RSVP here. Race fees will be collected on venue(before start of race).

Rules:

  • The race is part of the 2012 racing season.
  • This is a team race. We encourage riders to be part of a team/form your own team.
  • Each team can have a min of 3 riders and a max of 6 riders.
  • Drafting behind a fellow rider is allowed. Drafting behind anything else will result in disqualification. The rider will also be banned from participating in the next 3 HCC races
  • By participating in this race, you automatically accept the race rules listed at http://hyderabadcyclingclub.in/hcc-races/race-requirements/
  • All participants will be required to sign an indemnity bond before start of the race.
  • Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent (who will have to sign the indemnity bond and take all responsibility of the participant)
  • Helmets are mandatory


What will be provided?

  • Rider Bib numbers 
  • First aid and service of a doctor @ race venue in case of emergency
  • Basic snacks and water  (before and after the race)
  • There will be one Feed Zone at around 45 km mark where rider can pick up/refill bottle of water. The station will have some basic snacks  as well.
  • There will be amateur photographers taking pictures
  • With help from fellow riders and volunteers, we will arrange carpooling from different part of the city to the start point of the race.
  • Sphere Fitness and Sports Pvt Ltd (Distributor of Sigma Sports, Vredestein and 4ZA), Zixtro and Akslen have very kindly agreed to support the races. They will be giving away  podium freebies. Stay tuned, there's more to come:)
We also need volunteers to help the organisers. So if you are not looking to participate, but would like to volunteer or play photographer, do send a mail to  racedirector@hyderabadcyclingclub.in . We would be glad to have you. As a volunteer/photographer, you are will receive
  • A Safety vest/HCC volunteer T shirt
  • Any expenses made towards organizing the race would be reimbursed - especially fuel.
For any race related queries, send a mail to racedirector@hyderabadcyclingclub.in 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Workshop - Bike maintenance


Please note this session  is exclusively for riders who bought their bikes from TBA


When :  27th Oct  2012. 9 am – 10.30 am
Where : TBA, Kondapur
Fees :     Free!

We are going to tell and demonstrate you a few things that we feel every bike owner should know.

  • Daily check ( before every ride) - Things to check on your bike before every ride. This should help you get the best performance from your bike.
  • Basic Maintenance – A few things that you as a rider should be aware of. A perfectly maintained bike will enhance the life of your bike as well as the way you enjoy your rides.
  • Preventative Maintenance – When should you change your brake pads? Is your chain worn out? Are your tires all right? Is there anything wrong with that headset on your bike? Read the signs and act before it is too late.


Number of seats are limited. If you are interested, drop in a mail to krish@thebikeaffair.com with subject - "Workshop - Bike Maintenance", mentioning your full name  and  contact number.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zixtro Shell - First impression

Recently at TBA we came across a very attractive and innovative saddle bag - the Zixtro Shell. The hard body, the bright matt colors, the quick release mounts, and the absence of a Zipper won our accolades. Here's a quick review of the Shell.


Zixtro Shell in Red

Zixtro Shell in Black

Zixtro Shell in Yellow


The quick release Z lock clamp sits on the saddle rails. The locking mechanism is very simple and  tool free.

The clamp fits snug , and  is compatible with most saddle rails. The only case when it might have a problem is if the saddle has been pushed to the very end of the saddle rail.

The Shell looks tiiny, but can easily hold two 700x23 tubes( btwin  ones here), a minitool , a set of tyre lever,  and some money.

The elastic band is useful in holding a little bit of money or small items

We like the fact that instead of the usual fiddle prone zips, you just need to close the wrap around velcro strap. 

With the clamp installed, putting it  on and taking it off is a breeze. Re installing the Z lock mount is also quite fast, in case  you want to switch the Shell from one bike to another. Another option  would be to invest in an extra set of quick release Z lock mounts and leave it on your other bike.











Once mounted, the Shell doesn't move around. Have tested it over some rough patches of road, and the Shell has proved to be quite reliable. Although we haven't ridden in rain, it definitely looks waterproof.  Zixtro claims it as an all weather case. Lastly, the hard molded body gives you that extra bit of confidence if you are going to throw in a phone or camera.

The rear light holder ( to fit in the rear light) works well. Unlike many other saddle bags, the light remains steady and doesn't droop; thanks to the solid body and the holder

Rarely does a saddle bag impact the look of a bike in positive way. The Zixtro Shell is probably one of those rare ones. Available @TBA and other dealers across the country in multiple colors. Priced at Rs1390.



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Workshop - Fix A Flat





Remember the day when you got up early, ready to go out on a ride only to realize one of the tires has a flat and the puncture shop is not gonna open anytime soon ? Or the hour long walk that you had to take to the nearest puncture shop with your bike when you were stranded on the road?

Not anymore. After this session , you should be able to
a) Understand the types of flats and ways to prevent them
b) Dismount and install the the front and the rear wheels properly
c) Fix a flat (detecting punctures, patching them up )
d) Change a tube


When : 09-June-2012, 9.30 am - 10.30 am.
What : Wokshop on flat fixing and changing tubes.
Cost : Free
Location : The Bike Affair store, Kondapur

Please note, this is a hands on workshop. We have a stack of used tubes for you to locate and fix the puncture  before we certify you as the puncture guru:) Don't forget to get Tyre Levers along . Sandpapers, glue and patches will be provided. To register, please send a mail to krish@thebikeaffair.com with subject 'Fix-A-Flat' . Mention your name and contact number in the mail.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review - Sigma Lightster

The Lightser is Sigma's latest entry in the India market among battery powered LED lights. With a bright beam, thoughtful design and sub 3k price tag, it  bridges the gap between price and performance to a great extent .


Sigma Lightster  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan
  
Appearance: The Sigma Lightster takes 4 AA cells. This makes the light a little bulky, but it has been designed well to distribute the weight equally. One of the previous lights that we used - the Sigma Pava - we thought was front-heavy (the light would slip down when you hit a pothole and you needed to pull it back up again). This one, on the other hand is nicely balanced.

Sigma Lightster - Position on handlebar  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

Build Quality: Plastic body with a rubberized coating, but feels solid. The clamping mechanism needs special mention. Like most Sigma lights, this one comes with a 'tool-free mounting clamp and removable bracket. It is a nice feature if you are sharing the light with your buddies. Taking it off from one bike and installing it on another bike is a breeze. 


Sigma Lightster - detachable clamp  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan


Sigma Lightster - fitting the clamp  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

However, there are two limitations of this clamping system that one should be aware of.

a) The light needs to be installed as close to the stem (on the handlebar) as possible. This is because it can't be panned horizontally, unlike some of the higher end Sigma lights like the Karma Pro. This means, it would be really tricky to use this light if you have a handlebar bag, or for that matter, anything else on your handlebar.

b) While testing the light on rough and un-tarred roads, the light slipped down on one or two occasions, but we could adjust the angle again without having to stop the bike. Also, to keep it really secure (so it doesn't slip) you need to press the clamp very hard. And if you do so, taking the light off  needs some force.

Brightness/Illumination: The Lightster has been rated at 20 Lux  by Sigma. It has a focused and powerful beam with a squarish beam pattern. We felt the beam pattern is great if riding on decent or good roads where it gives you confidence to ride at a higher speed. When we tried the light on broken and  un-tarred roads, we wished it had a broader beam pattern, which would have made tackling potholes or choosing a line easier.

Sigma Lightster - Beam Shot ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan
Details : Time : 11.30 pm, Location : Hyderbad, Focussed 20 metres away from source

Modes: The light has just the On/Off modes. No intermediate brightness or blinking modes.

Burn time:  Although the website says that the burn time is 20 hours, in our test, the intensity went down after 10 hours of continuous usage. And after 15 hours, it is unusable (tested with brand new Duracell AA Alkaline batteries).  But a 10 hours burn time can definitely be tagged as 'very impressive' for a light which is as powerful as this one.We had also tested the brightness for a continuous period of 5 hours and didn't notice any significant drop in brightness.

Other features:
a) There is a charging socket inbuilt in the unit. This means  if you are using rechargeable cells in the unit, you would be able to charge them without taking them out. The charger and rechargeable Sigma batteries  will be available in India in very near future at additional cost. We were told by Sigma India that the charger is recommended to be  used only with Sigma rechargeable AA batteries.

Sigma Lightster - charging socket  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

b) There is a battery status indicator, which glows red when running low on battery.
c) The 2 openings on the side of the light which Sigma refers as 'side windows' are very thoughtful. They make the rider more visible at road intersections where the light is seen from a 90 degree angle.

Cost: Rs. 2700

Summary: There aren't many sub 3k battery powered lights in the Indian Market which are suited for road bikers, and this is what makes the Sigma Lightster an interesting proposition to riders. The bright beam lets you ride without sacrificing your speed. However, if you ride on mud roads and badly broken roads,this may not be the best option. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Raman Joins TBA


Around 2 years back,  a young chap had come down to our store, asking for suggestion on a road bike. After debating on the options for a week, we ordered the trek 2.1 for him. He turned out to be a somebody who always wanted his bike to be in a perfectly tuned up condition. And that meant every other other week we would receive a call from him. Sometimes it was some very minute RD adjust, at other times it would be  that illusive 'not so smooth feel' of his bottom bracket. Its been a while since then.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are thrilled to announce that Raman Garimella,  a mechanical engineer from BITS and member of AP state cycling team is now part of The Bike Affair family. We are sure his critical approach and attention to smaller details would help us take TBA to the next level. Post trainng, he will be in charge of the Torque Wrench and will be leading the Tech Division .  He can be reached at raman@thebikeaffair.com

Friday, May 4, 2012

Giro d'Italia live @TBA

The wait is over. Yes , you are right. Its time for the Giro d'italia - one of the 3 grand tours, the other 2 being Tour De France and Vuelta  a EspaƱa. Think the Tour de France is bigger? Hmmm...you gotta ask an Italian ( at the risk of being beaten up:)).


The next 21 days are going to be lots of fun and if you want to have some good time with fellow bikers, do drop by at TBA to watch the live action. The refrigerator has just been  Giro-ed.


We are yet to receive timing for each day, but tentatively the telecast will start around 5.00 pm IST, leaving out the Time Trial days.
StageDateCourseDistanceType
15 MayDenmark Herning8.7 km (5.4 mi)History.gifIndividual time trial
26 MayDenmark Herning to Herning206 km (128 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
37 MayDenmark Horsens to Horsens190 km (118 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
8 MayRest day
49 MayVerona32.2 km (20.0 mi)History.gifTeam time trial
510 MayModena to Fano199 km (124 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
611 MayUrbino to Porto Sant'Elpidio207 km (129 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain
712 MayRecanati to Rocca di Cambio202 km (126 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain
813 MaySulmona to Lago Laceno229 km (142 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain
914 MaySan Giorgio del Sannio to Frosinone171 km (106 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
1015 MayCivitavecchia to Assisi187 km (116 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain
1116 MayAssisi to Montecatini Terme243 km (151 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
1217 MaySeravezza to Sestri Levante155 km (96 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain
1318 MaySavona to Cervere121 km (75 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
1419 MayCherasco to Cervinia205 km (127 mi)Mountainstage.svgMountain stage
1520 MayBusto Arsizio to Lecco-Pian dei Resinelli172 km (107 mi)Mountainstage.svgMountain stage
21 MayRest day
1622 MayLimone sul Garda to Falzes-Pfalzen174 km (108 mi)Mediummountainstage.svgMedium mountain stage
1723 MayFalzes-Pfalzen to Cortina d'Ampezzo187 km (116 mi)Mountainstage.svgMountain stage
1824 MaySan Vito di Cadore to Vedelago139 km (86 mi)Plainstage.svgFlat stage
1925 MayTreviso to Alpe di Pampeago197 km (122 mi)Mountainstage.svgMountain stage
2026 MayCaldes-Val di Sole to Passo dello Stelvio218 km (135 mi)Mountainstage.svgMountain stage
2127 MayMilan31.5 km (19.6 mi)History.gifIndividual time trial
(Courtesy : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Giro_d'Italia)