Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jewellry for a Mercian

Did I ( or my wife!! )  ever really believe that once I had bought the bike that that would be the end of the expenditure?

Having acquired my new bike it was not long before I realized that I needed a few extras and so I prepared to drop down to the local supermarket to get some stuff.

STOP!!!! “ shouted one of my cycling friends on the web..
” You can’t just go and buy any old junk for a hand crafted Mercian Vincitore Special. It will ruin the entire look. Accessories for a bike are like cuff-links for a dress shirt . They need to be chosen with care to reflect the personality of the bike.

And so I started doing some research.

Cycling Nutrition is a black hole to me.   I rapidly discovered that going on long rides and taking neither liquid nor food with me led to severe energy loss and numerous aches and pains throughout my musculature. So I decided to buy a water bottle to ensure that at least I had some liquid. On one of my old bikes, which has no bosses on the frame, I just attached the bottle cage to the downtube using a couple of black plastic cable ties, a sort of workable if not elegant solution. I say “ sort of works “ because the bottle does occasionally spontaneously eject itself from the cage when going over a pothole or bump in the road.  I thought for the Vincitore it deserved something better. So I ensured there were two sets of bottle cage bosses built onto the frame and I chose an Elite Custom Race Bottle Cage in a colour which matched the rest of the frame paintwork. This is claimed to be a true design classic and the self adjusting and rubber tensioner grips should hold the bottle in place even over the worst roads that I might encounter. So far, no bottle missile ejections have taken place so it is performing well.

I am no long distance tourer but I do have to transport spares, tools and other stuff. So what to use to carry these things about. The plastic bag strapped to a rack which I have been using just did not seem appropriate. Searching around and talking to others I discovered Carradice. In the early 1930’s Wilf Carradice, frustrated that there were no suitable saddlebags to buy, decided to make one for himself. To his surprise, he was inundated by friends asking him to make more. And so, Carradice of Nelson was born. Even to this day the heart of the company still remains the core range of 100% waterproof cotton duck panniers and saddle bags with leather straps, which have withstood the test of time for over 70 years and are loved and cherished the world over. They are still made by hand in the factory in Nelson and mine was made by Sue.

I am fascinated by numbers.

I always have been.

As a small choir boy I used to pass the time during the service by factorizing the hymn numbers and testing them for primality. And so it was only natural that I would want to record all the data associated with my cycling. Faster, higher, further does not really apply to me but I still wanted to record my achievements/failings and discuss them with my cycling friends on our Tea Shop Tours.
Technology has advanced since those days of my boyhood when one had an odometer attached to the fork which clicked over at every revolution of the wheel. There are a wide variety of devices on the market from wired to wireless and an increasing range of data that can be captured. I chose a Garmin 500 and added on the optional wireless heart rate and combined speed/cadence sensor  which pretty much covered all of the information bases aside from full web access. The data is displayed in up to eight customisable fields per 'page' but now there are a full 41 options to choose from and three instead of two pages on which to spread them out.  
Whilst I transfer all this to my computer using Garmin Connect, and recently I have started to use Strava as well, I still use a spread sheet to keep track of total distances covered and see whether I am on target for my self set yearly mileage.  Defence in depth and a protection should the web services expire.


  1. I'm a Garmin fan too. After many years using an Edge 205, i graduated to an 800 at Christmas. On thing's for sure, rides will never be the same again.

    The bottle cage thing is a funny one, but to my mind, a steel frame deserves steel bottle cages. I've gone for stainless variants on the 953 Rourke that's on its way.

    Great blog btw, very enjoyable.

  2. Nice piece, and a good choice on the Garmin. I've used one for years, and you'll never look back.

    On the bottle cage front, to me steel ones would be more suited to your Mercian. Just my opinion you understand.

    Keep the blogs coming....