while watching track racing from manchester the other weekend, it dawned on me that, as winter approached through the back garden, riding round and round on some angled wooden boards may just have its attractions. for starters, there's be no need for mudguards, winter-weight baselayers or even waterproofs. in fact, based on viewing several events over the course of a couple of days, it looked very much like an entire year could be spent aboard a bicycle in shorts and short-sleeved jerseys without ever needing recourse to three rear pockets or a waterproof jacket.
you have to admit, it has certain attractions.
however, having voiced these thoughts out loud via twitter, it was only a matter of minutes before the rug was pulled out from under my dreams of a clean dry future career. firstly, molly cameron of portland bicycle studio pointed out that much of my time would be spent in the gym, equating to considerably fewer hours in the saddle. since i view gyms in similar light to turbo trainers (spawn of the devil), i was already seriously reconsidering the future career that only a moment or two earlier had seemed like the way forward.
then, to put the final nail in the short-lived coffin, another friend pointed out that it meant riding bicycles with no gears. and not only that, gears that did not take into account any preponderance to freewheel now and again. given my total lack of ability to ride fixed wheel without a nearby wall to start and stop, it was back to the careers office for further suggestions.
resigned to spending my remaining years hurtling along the highways and byeways midst galeforce winds, driving rain and temperatures that are not always kind to the mercury, i have decided to revel in the attractions, such as they are, of bright and shiny waterproofs. as reality strikes (or struck, as may be a more appropriate tense), i must return to taking my own advice of dressing pertinently should any misfortune befall while surveying the estates. in the rural idyll, this is something not to be taken lightly, for while riding as fast as my steel thighs will allow might well keep me cosy and warm, it's only a matter of stopping for a moment or two, either to avoid errant birdwatchers or to attend to a mechanical deficiency, and immediate cooling ensues.
however, i have now found a particularly effective method of not only resisting the aforementioned lowering of body temperature, but offering one or two of the features previously to be found in the gym that i was so keen to avoid.
brought into the uk by nrg4, unich offer an interesting range of mini-pumps that bring joy to a boring old fart such as myself. in the halcyon days of yore, each and every bicycle pump of whatever variant contined within its person a short rubber hose that would thread onto the tyre valve prior to inflation. then trendiness all but obliterated such a pragmatic device and the notion of the direct-on pump reared its ugly head (quite literally, in fact). these operate by pushing the pump head onto the valve, a rubber seal keeping the air just where it ought to be.
theoretically a ginger peachy idea, in fact the very act of athletic inflation (so to speak) tended to move the pump rather frenetically, not always maintaining that all important air-seal for efficiency and speed. and i surely can't be the only individual who has managed to snap off the end of a presta valve in the process? some folks just don't know their own strength.
returning practicality to the modern era, these compact and bijou bicycle unich pumps offer a swappable thread-on chuck to take care of both schrader and presta valves. one end on the valve, the other end threaded into the end of the pump. when stored on the bottle-cage mounted bracket, the hose is stored inside and covered by a rubber end cap to keep it warm and dry. the gym effect manifests itself when time comes to pump up a tyre; though offered in two distinct sizes, neither of which could double as a walking stick, one complete stroke does not shift a large volume of air. thus inflating a 700x25c inner tube not only takes more than a moment or two, but offers the opportunity to acquire an upper body reminiscent of schwarnold arzenegger.
however, what is undeniable and i confess more than just a little surprising, was the pressure achievable during the body-building process. and not entirely without a build-up of heat both in person and the cnc machined pump handle, totally obviating any need to wear warm clothes during winter (of course, i might be slightly overstating this latter aspect). on reaching the point of physical exhaustion (not mitigated by my having disturbed a rubber seal between pump and hose, somewhat prolonging the process) i checked the tyre pressure with an accurate gauge, demonstrating that i'd actually reached 102psi.
that's a figure i have never achieved without recourse to a track pump. the substantially larger frame-fit pump that i normally carry under the top tube pretty much gives up around 65psi. almost as impressive as my singular turn of speed on smelling the coffee at debbie's.
the unich pump is available in silver, grey, orange, blue or black anodising along with bottle cage mounting bracket for a mere £25.99. not only do i now look forward to improved upper body strength, but the ability to confidently deal with punctures suffered in proximity to an atlantic swell.
thursday 14 november 2013