Monday 23 July 2012

Planet X Cyclocross Disc and Canti Pro Carbon 50/50 tubular wheels

Bit of a rare animal these......

Going disc AND tubular last year forced me and Dave Haygarth to get our own deep section carbon wheels sorted. There just weren't any decent options out there without spending silly money. Cue ensuing ebay shenanagins and some chunky though strong 50mm rims with Novatec hubs arrived for building at the local bike shop. Nice, perfectly adequate but a bit heavy and workmanlike even with 20 hole front and 24 rear, both laced 2X.

Enter Planet X with their usual eye for value and performance and we have the Disc and Canti Pro Carbons - lighter, faster and most probably stronger too. Both front and rear have 24h rims (also 2X), the same rim as on their newest version of the legendary 50mm Pro Carbon wheelsets, 6 bolt hubs and black double butted Pillar spokes. All for £450 £499 They also have the same proprietary braking surface as the road wheels meaning you can swap between bikes if you're not completely converted to disc.

How do they feel compared to my ebay versions? Not like their  original Clydesdale name - they are much lighter and snappier, retaining all the stiffness of my DIY wheels. I don't know what the exact weight is but it must be around about 1500grams, maybe less - their road cousins come in at about 1400grams. They feel, and are, like light race wheels despite their moniker - quick to pick up, responsive when getting out of the saddle, solid.

Gluing up was a dream - the braking surface, a matt finish, extends to the rim bed and gives a perfect surface to lay the glue onto. The profile is fairly shallow too making it easier to seat the tub and glue to the all important edges where adhesion is needed to make them stick right.

They'll be getting a full test shortly so I will report back.

Friday 20 July 2012

Bull Hill 2012

I've written about the delights of Bull Hill before here - '...a warm up on a monster climb up onto the moor – a descent down a shattered river bed (under 6 inches of water) but posing as a track – a walk/scramble up a 45 degree slope easing off into water logged peat bog caressed by a howling gale – an attempt to shuffle into a run and summit up further steep slope onto Holcombe Moor – before an exhilerating career down the other side, wiping sweat from my eyes and trying not to crash before turning left to go down the shattered river bed again and repeat.'

It still remains one of the most accessible (Friday lunch break) and effective (just over an hour for 3 reps) 3 Peaks cross sessions I've found. This year is no different, though the first session a couple of weeks ago was less of a shock to a pre-Peaks training constitution than in previous years.

Rather than writing, I thought I'd showcase some of the cracking images that Dave Haygarth has taken recently that show you much of the character and beauty of the area.....

Thursday 12 July 2012


It's an evocative enough word - Gallic in tone, though as ever Greek in origin. But one with a relatively short history, first having been coined in the 1970's.

And within that simple word, lies a whole world of intrigue, technical demands and, this being cycle racing, pain. Short and hard, sometimes technically demanding, the crit is not a million miles away from a cross race. Except where cross races don't usually deliver in speed terms, crits produce a speed element more akin to track racing. That speed, over a short course, turns out to be great training for cross and so crits have often been the staple summer diet for cross enthusiasts and specialists. Except this one.

I'd always eschewed crits - part fear, part dislike of a road scene that perhaps unfairly I'd felt to be cliquey and elitist. Either way, far removed from the experience of cross. But, peer pressure is a wonderful thing, and the sight of friend Mark riding his first crit at Preston on a Thursday night convinced me to dip a toe in.

Immediately addictive, it was of course nowhere near as bad as I had imagined. I've done a few now, getting better as I go. Or rather getting dropped less rapidly by the Elite/1/2 riders, getting in some good workouts and improving speed and confidence all the while.

Pic: Neville Llewellyn

Perhaps the most fun was a closed road crit round the lumps and bumps and copious cobbles of Lancaster City Centre. Add in the worst storm/rain event in many years and it was immediately a classic. All the more so as team mate Dave H got 2nd in what was a tailor made course for his skill and power.

I can feel a few more crits coming on before the summer is up - a perfect distraction before the real racing starts in September...........