Category Archives: Kit

Observations from the Scottish Bike Show

I missed the Tour of Flanders to take my 5 year old to the Scottish Bike Show today. The show has moved towards a family event, and I’d like my little one to get into bike riding, but of her own accord, because she likes it. I have marketing on my mind right now, for various reasons,

I’d have liked to attend on the Saturday, of course, and hear what Sir Chris, Brian Smith and Finlay Pretsell had to say, and then catch de Ronde today with a few chilled Chimays. I suspect that is what many folks did, given today was reportedly quieter than the Saturday, but family is where it’s at for me right now.

I was greeted outside the show hall by David Brennan who was leafletting for the Pedal On Parliament Scotland event on Saturday 26th April. I have meant to attend this gathering in the past, as safer cycling is something I want for my own and my kids’ future. Guerilla marketing, perhaps, but David is always open for a friendly chat and was interested to absorb the views / observations I offered from the Stirling perspective – is enforcing a rule that kids must operate their own lock encouraging younger ones to ride to school, for example?

Scottish Bike Show 2014

Inside the hall, we headed for Kiddimoto’s inflatable track (above), which is a superb way for them to market their balance bikes, helmets and accessories and I5 went back for three shots on it. She has all but grown out of the Firstbike balance bike I bought her 3 years ago, and it has done it’s job of circumventing the need for stabilisers, so she was fully confident here and at the upper end of the age range for this attraction.

Scottish Bike Show 2014

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Homemade chamois cream recipe

Further to my wee bro’s homemade protein recovery flapjack (PFJ?) recipe, here is a formula for your own chamois cream.

The spirit of home made and fettled things have been in the spirit of this blog ever since I published Official Rule #8: Performing your own maintenance. The mythical Scottish cycling champion is able to set up his own bike, build his own wheels and even design and make his own frames. Hang, on, we already have one of those, his name’s Graeme Obree.

The concoction is created by Simon Lamb of sadly-now-defunct Gazzetta della Bici fame, and founder of the non-location-based GS Gazzetta cycling club. Simon created his own massage oils and sold them for a while under the La Clinica A Mano label, although [edit] as of 2012 you can now find them at Il Dolore.

Chamois Cream Recipe:
•Large pot emollient cream, Large pot Aqueous cream. Essential oils [lemon tea tree] and Witch Hazel.

•Mix creams together a bowl. Then add the Witch Hazel [50ml] but add it gradually and mix well to stop it splitting

•Then add 5ml’s of each of essential oils gradually. Put the mixed cream back in the tubs it came in and thats it!

•Use quite liberally, as it’s thinner than some you get. But it cheap, easy and lasts for ages.

I haven’t tried it myself but it has been road tested by illustrator Richard Mitchelson and others- give it a go!

Scottish Cycling Foods: protein recovery Flapjack recipe

After posting about Graeme Obree’s low-fi energy food recently, you may end up ‘breathing in crumbs’, to borrow a phrase of his, with this recipe.

The recipe is the creation of my brother, who spends his spare time mountain biking and back-country skiing in Switzerland, when he isn’t trying out the trails of Borneo.

The addition of protein powder certainly makes it more of a recovery food than race fuel, but having tested it on the reliability rides this month it is good on-ride winter fodder if you nibble in small quantities, or is ideal for carrying as an insurance policy against the dreaded bonk.

Protein flapjack ingredients 1

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Focus on mechanics: Brendan Milliken

Brendan has kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about the past two years he has spent as a full time mechanic for Endura Racing.

You’ve spent the past 2 years as mechanic with Endura Racing, remind us how you got the gig?
Since the age of 14 I have been involved in cycling, as a rider and working in cycle shops as a mechanic, cycling has been a big part of my life and to be involved in the professional scene on or off the bike has always been a dream. I have been involved with Endura Racing for 4 seasons now, from the original incarnation that was PedalPower Race Team/Endura where I assisted the team with mechanics and support in the team car at a few Premier Calendar events. During the 2009 Halfords Tour Series after a mechanical-strewn 1st round, I was offered the position of mechanic, looking after team bikes, driving and logistics which led to a full time job with Endura and Endura Racing.

Tour Doonhame 2011 | Photo by Larry Hickmott | courtesy of Endura Racing
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David Millar’s prototype aero helmet

David Millar sported an aero helmet on the final stage of the Tour de France. I’m far from a gear expert but I thought I’d bring together a few thoughts on it.

David Millar - Tour de France, stage 21
pic © Team Garmin-Cervélo
click through for their flickr photos of the Tour

The helmet caused plenty of reaction on twitter, initially with people wondering who the rider was and whether it was an aero or track helmet – “WTF?”, if you like. Screenshots from Eurosport and itv4 were posted.

Even amongst pros, one of the prevailing feelings is that out-and-out aero kit during a road stage is not the done thing. “Like turning up to an amateur race in a skinsuit and not even getting in the break” someone said.
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Focus on mechanics: Mark Leadbetter

I’ve been meaning to give mechanics some attention on the blog for a while, and it’s easiest to start with one I know: Mark Leadbetter is a bike mechanic local to my Stirling area, and a club mate. An experienced wrench, he honed his trade at Stewart Wilson Cycles in Stirling (below), which has recently changed hands and is now revamped and trading as Velocity44.

He’s a good wheel builder and mark considers this his own speciality or ‘wizardry’. I’ve spent many years examining factory wheels or those built by other people which would come to me for service or repair… spotting even the most minute mistakes in the build. I think of the many thousands of wheels examined in all that time… I saw only half a dozen or so that I would have been happy to have supplied.

When I wrote this post, Mark didn’t have a website, but you can now reach him at
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Bike ‘review’: Felt AR5

I got a loan of this from my mate Pedro at Flying Fox Bikes in Alva. The Felt AR5, or ‘felt arse’ as it has affectionately come to be known locally, is an aerodynamic road bike designed to slice through the wind.

I’m no product tester, having only ever ridden a carbon bike once before, ‘d hesitate to venture into the subjective area of equipment reviews. But it’d be a shame to have tried a machine such as the AR5 without giving it a mention on the blog, so here goes.

Felt AR5

Felt AR5










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Graeme Obree’s ‘The Hour’ watch

Graeme Obree designed a watch to celebrate his record-breaking hour record.

Graeme Obree interview – The Hour from Mr Jones on Vimeo.

The watch appeared last year, and the other week he was on STVs ‘The Hour‘ programme (available on limited catch-up, click ‘part four’). There’s his typical frankness about the pain of attempting the hour record in this video, mixed in with some philosopy about time.

Owen P – 2011 winter ‘sponsors’

I’m a bit late this post, but after last year, I thought I’d do it again. Owen P is proud to announce newly signed sponsorship deals for the 2010/2011 winter period.

Winter ride, Dollarbeg

For heart rate monitors he is sponsored by tonydeebo, a bike-obsessed world traveller who very generously sent his old Polar S625X HRM/bike computer. A nice bit of kit that will enable Owen to take training to the next level and make the most of riding time when baby no.2 arrives.

Training programme has been planned by Donald Maclean, a workhorse cycling coach and volunteer who devotes many hours of his time to the Wallace Warriors, the incredibly successful youth section of Stirling Bike Club. Donald is working towards his British Cycling level 3 qualification. As far as I know, the only other coach in Scotland with this qualification is Mark Young, who has worked with Endura Racing and the Scottish Commonwealth Games Team.

For 39-tooth chainrings and 9-speed cassettes John Galloway has provided support. John is a former velocast presenter and has some great chat to share on twitter.

For 9-speed derailleurs I thank twitter. To my shame, I have forgotten the name of the generous someone who posted me an nearly new Tiagra mech for my winter bike refurb.

Jim aka cowspassage cut me a great deal on some 9-speed shifters. Worth a follow on twitter if you fancy some witty banter.

Plain black Gore Bike Wear bib shorts by were provided at a very attractive discount by Pete at Flying Fox Bikes. The Gore kit is simple yet functional, a quality that appeals to The Scottish Cyclist.

Flying Fox mountain bikes, road bikes, BMX, Stirling / Clackmannanshire

Obree’s 2009 hour record bike

I have had the photo below, (by Andy McAndlish, originally published in an article on bikeradar) on my desktop for a while and the moment had been lost to blog it. Sometimes you have to be quick, which is why I try to stay away from race news and results.

But I have started listening to old episodes of the Velocast again (still available on podomatic), and in episode 10 they discussed this bike, albeit with aero bars.

(Photo: Andy McAndlish)

There’s another great shot of Obree riding the bike if you click through to bikeradar, showing his outstanding aptitude for innovating to find an extremely aerodynamic position. He used his trademark custom parts to get an aerodynamic position, but within the “new” UCI rules, which aim to keep bikes within the style of Eddy Merckx’s 1972 record.

Velocasters Scott and John covered Obree’s attempt on the hour record, which at 43 years old would have been a great challenge, but alas the machine did not work on the velodrome bankings as expected, which hit Graeme hard. He was advised to abadnon the hour attempt.

The bike remains though (and I wonder where it is now). It has a Selle Italia Flite saddle with a purple fluffy cover reminiscent of some sort of muppet. The Reynolds 653 steel frame catches the eye, with it’s 1-and-1/8 inch tubing that is very thin-looking by today’s standards. Added to this are aluminium time trial handlebars that were hand-whittled by Obree for for three months! And some custom pedals, again hand-whittled! The sort of obsessive attention to detail that made Graeme such an amazing time trialler.

More shots of the bike

Bikeradar interview with more great pics