Tuesday, 17 March 2015

spannering at Alloa Half

Spannering: (Urban Dictionary) Any form of mechanical work on a vehicle, be it a bicycle, motorcycle, car or even a lawnmower.
Usage: "I spent all weekend in the garage spannering, got the car running again by Sunday."
Misusage: "I was spannering horribly by mile ten and dead by the finish."

I think Gav won, (again)

Ellie second guessed the t-shirt colour with pre-matched nails and hairband.

Given the amount of hours (cumulatively days and weeks) I have spent in my life repairing and tweaking bikes I consider myself vaguely competent. Or did. How difficult can it be to fit a new pannier rack? When I bought the bike my only worry was it didn't have braze-ons and holes in the frame to take a rack. However there are ways round this. Racks are also being constructed to get round disc brakes and 29" wheels. I bought one suitable for the latter but when I got it home found it wasn't quite as I imagined, to sit on the skewer, but fortunately there were gaps in the rear frame triangle that would take a small bolt. (Another trip to the bike shop - and how come bike shops don't seem to sell packs of bolts; 2 different shops just had freebie trays of loose bolts and it feels wrong filling your pockets.) Topside the rack would attach to a modified seat clamp, if I had bought the right size. (The jury is still out on this but it seems to hold both the seat post and the rack extensions firmly.)

Things I like about the Topeak rack: it is built from large but light tubular alloy and the lumps at the hub keep the struts out of the way of the discs brakes etc. When I cycle to work I can now carry large amounts of kit in pannier bags instead of a 40lb backpack on my back. Things I am not so keen on: why are none of the struts vertical? I suppose this is to take the rack further back so you don't catch your heels on the pannier bags. But it means you have to resort to measuring the flatbed with a spirit level and even then it looks a bit wonky. I also bent back the slightly extraneous back light tab and bolted on a rear mudguard which I had modified with a saw. This to catch the worst of the mud and water flung up from wet roads that dirties up your back. 

Steph went under 1.30 for the first time

Richard L was kind enough to give Jim and myself a lift to Alloa. On the way I was explaining how I had been relying on cycling for fitness. My work for the last handful of weeks has been in Longniddry and I have cycled the 12.5 miles, 21 times. The cycle home option vs the train home worked out about 50/50 and depended a lot on wind strength and direction. However in the last week the wind direction seemed curiously to change twice a day so that I found I was struggling into a headwind both there AND back AND there again the next day. It was like someone was taking the piss. The process was leaving nothing in the tank for running in the evenings however I was reckoning it would be excellent fitness training and a lack of running miles wouldn't matter. Richard - a cyclist so keen he does it just for the enjoyment of the activity itself (and ironman training) - felt this wasn't really the case. And that maybe it actually bulked up quads in an unhelpful way. This had come to light recently when I Hulked my trousers. "You've done what in your trousers?" asked Mary alarmed. "I've Hoy-ed my legs and when I hunkered down to get something off the floor both trouser legs split at the thigh." I'm guessing David Banner is better at cycling than running when he is angry.

Although they looked not bad in the crowd scene at the finish I don't think the pink shirts will see the exposure the bright orange ones got from last year.

Sadly Richard proved closer to the mark and I found I had a disappointing performance at Alloa. One of the biggest problems was that last year, in tougher conditions I ran 1.18. Conditions were nearly perfect this year with the wind behind us on the long back stretch. I started moderately and paced it well enough but by halfway I watched the pack I was with speed up and I failed to stay with them. More went past than were overtaken although my pace was fairly even. I spent a few miles working out my likely time and it was depressing realising I wouldn't be going under 1.20, 1.21 even 1.22. Which isn't a disgraceful time, but actually it is, compared to 1.18 and about 2/3rds of a mile difference. There was a good turn out of Porties and some excellent pbs. Johnny ran an outstanding 1.14 and was 16th.

spannering at mile 10
(photo thanks to Gordon D)

shatabda photography

And it hurt a lot more than last year. Lack of miles makes for soft feet. It's a while since I've stomped out enough road training and it showed. So, with Longniddry behind me it's time to start running again and get back up to speed. I'm bored with going to races below par.

When I got home I remembered it was Mother's day. With weary limbs I climbed on the bike and cycled to my mum's with flowers. I took a couple of photos of the bike while there having considered that I might use them to illustrate the spannering. Looking at the close up photos later I saw that a nut at the lowest part of the rack wasn't fully tightened. It was a self locking nut so I knew it hadn't worked loose.  I took the wheel off to do the job properly and in doing so noticed there was a threaded bolt hole in the frame there, to take a rack. Right enough there was one in the other side but I hadn't noticed this one. I was wondering how in hell this had escaped my attention until I realised the quick release arm had been folded over it. Okay, so start the whole job over again.

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