Sunday, 29 May 2016

A year of Numbers

While looking through my Garmin Connect data earlier today, I happened across my yearly totals. It turns out that since June 2015, I've ridden 6,500 km, or around 4,000 miles. Total height gained was 78,500 metres. That did include last summer's trip to the Alps, of course.

I rode 206 times and spent 289 hours in the saddle.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Mountain Tool

The term 'Hostage to Fortune' might have been invented for someone who names their blog 'Fatman in the Alps', without properly considering the possibility of cycling holidays in other mountain ranges. We're going to the Pyrenees this year.

The term 'Mountain Tool' might be applied to someone who does this. Equally, it might apply to a bike like this.

It's a Ribble Aero 883 with Shimano Di2 Ultegra transmission and Mavic Cosmic Pro wheels. It has  compact chainrings, and a 32-11 casette. Those are real 'granny ring' ratios. But that's ok. I am a grandad.

I rode a bike with Di2 at last year's bike show at the NEC. It was a Pinarello Dogma F8, and I was hugely impressed. However, at the time, there didn't seem to be any option for a medium length rear derailleur cage for the larger casettes I need to get up mountain climbs, so using Di2 was not an option.

Then, earlier this year, while looking for a new frame, I discovered that not only did Shimano make a suitable rear derailleur for the largest Ultegra casette, but also that it was available for custom built bikes through Ribble Cycles. After a lot of pondering and much calculation of gear ratios, I finally decided to take the plunge and order one. Today was my first chance to ride it.

It turns out that my gear ration calculations were correct, and it's just as easy to get up the steepest climbs around here as my Willier Izoard, which  has triple chainrings. Di2 is simply awesome. Changes are swift and accurate. The ability of the front derailleur to trim itself automatically, to avoid the chain rubbing, means that it's possible to use nearly the whole cassette with either of the front rings. Brilliant!

The frame is stiff, but my no means uncomfortable. Internal cable routing and Kamtail section tubes add to an impression of a very aerodynamic design, as do the rear brake, hidden behind the bottom bracket and the deep section carbon wheels. It doesn't do anything to help with my exceedingly poor aerodynamics, of course.

So, this is the bike I'll be using in the Pyrenees this year, together with my normal array of Garmin kit, including an Edge 1000 and Vector power measuring pedals. Training is now on to get used to the new bike. If today is anything to go by, it's not likely to take long.