KPMG National Charity Bike Ride: Bike Choices

Well done for taking part in this amazing challenge to raise vital funds for NSPCC.

In this first blog we are going to explore the different bike choices and what will be best for completing the ride.

It may be some time since you last rode a bike and the thought of completing the challenge may seem daunting, but with some forward preparation the miles will fly by.

So which bike should I choose?

Mountain Bike

Firstly, on most of the days a mountain bike just isn’t going to be an efficient means of getting from A to B. The frame weight, geometry and the width and normal tread pattern of the tyres create far too much resistance and will severely hamper your speed and enjoyment.

We have experienced, very capable mountain bikers undertaking various road based routes/ challenges of the distances you will be undertaking and they have all been unable to complete the full ride.

So, that leaves hybrid or road bikes:


A hybrid gives you a lot of the benefits of a road bike (gearing, weight, wheel size) in a, usually, less prone position, so if you’re not a fan of road bike ‘drop’ handlebars, the straight handlebars of a hybrid may be for you.

One point to note is that, generally, hybrid tyres are normally a lit
tle wider (28-36mm) than equivalent road tyres (25-28mm) and generally have more tread, so one means of creating a more efficient ride is to invest in tyres with less tread (slicker), which will ensure a smoother, quicker ride. Less tread and slicker doesn’t mean less grip or more punctures, modern, quality tyres have excellent grip and puncture protection as standard – we will cover tyre choices and set up in a later post.


The are several advantages of a road bike. They are designed to cover great distances efficiently and are generally of a lighter design (frame, wheels etc). There are usually greater gearing options to cover all eventualities, and little fixes, such as changing handlebar tape to extra thick, which all adds up to a more comfortable overall experience.

Once set up correctly, a rider on a road bike should be able to cover many miles in comfort and with no pain – if you’ve been training!

Where to buy?

The internet is awash with cheap bikes, but, unless you already know the exact size you require it can be somewhat hit and miss.

Any reputable local bike shop, should be able to assess your needs and advise on the exact size of frame required and set you up on the bike to ensure you are in the most comfortable, efficient position and advise on accessories required to keep you cycling.

Diary of a Sportive Support Day

Saturday 25th April 2015 – ITP events Rutland Sportive

This was the second event I had supported for ITP events having been introduced by Neil Exton of AGU mobile bicycle repairs – one of my tutors I met while undertaking my City and Guilds. (My efforts at last years Lincoln Grand Prix sportive must have been noticed as Ian Penrose had asked me back to cover this and the Lincoln Sportives).

ITP events are always extremely well organised, well received and with good turnouts. This event was no different and an excellent field of 1030+ riders meant that our time would be fully occupied. Thankfully the weather (apart from the wind) wouldn’t be a major factor as the day was bright with broken cloud and sun.

An early 7am start at Rutland Water and no hanging about – straight into helping build one of the many gazeebos that adorn the start/finish line.

After a briefing between Neil, his son Paul (who would be covering the course on his motorbike) and myself, the plan for the day was decided. Neil would set out about 30 minutes after the first long route riders had set off then Paul after 45 minutes and myself after an hour. This ‘staggering’ of departures allows us to deal with any issues that may arise on all the routes and not be too far into the course to be able to deal with issues nearer to the start.

But before that it was time to set up the work stands at the start and deal with any last minute adjustments or issues before the riders set off.

The most frequent request?

To use our wire cutters to remove the tag from the end of the cable tie for attaching the rider number!Rutland Sportive 2015

There were other issues with minor adjustments to gears (and subsequent advice on drivetrain servicing and cleanliness……), to re-truing a wheel with a number of loose spokes, and the most bizarre – a very noticeable front wheel click on a very expensive set of carbon wheels, only under load, and every revolution. After a little head scratching and both Neil and myself looking at it, it was narrowed down to an ill-fitting valve; a tightening of the locking ring saw the end of the noise.

After setting off following the field it wasn’t long before I received my first call from control to attend one of two rear mech. hanger issues, the first was an end to the riders event as the rear mech. had pulled completely over the top of the cassette jammed in the wheel and as the rider had come off the bike the rear wheel rim had snapped. The second was recoverable but only back at the Giant Cycle store, where a new rear mech. and mech. hanger enabled him to resume the short route.

And most unusual…

The next was an unusual call – a lady had torn her tyre and needed a replacement – nothing too unusual in that but the tyre had split both sides all the way around the rim. After changing the tyre and replacing the wheel, it was obvious that the wheel was not sitting correctly – a quick check revealed that the quick release retaining springs were the wrong way round and the resultant 2-3mm had caused the brake pads to wear through the tyre after only a few miles.

Keeping in constant communication with Neil, Paul and control we co-ordinated our movement around the route to ensure we kept up with the riders and kept the whole route within easy reach.

The last major incident I had to deal with was a snapped chain, on a virtually brand new Giant bike fitted with 11 speed Ultegra gearing – the chain had snapped on the link pin (I really do not like these and this is the 3rd chain on an 11 speed groupset that I have seen snap in this manner – a ‘chain link’ is far more reliable). After fitting a chain link and straightening out the front mech. the rider was on his way once again.

The rest of the event passed with only minor issues and gave me time to appreciate the rolling countryside of Leicestershire before it was time to find the last rider on the road and ensuring no one was left out on the road. Ian from ITP Events doesn’t set a time limit on completion allowing the riders to ride at their own pace, so it was time for a run around the route between us all until the last rider was located on the road and a convoy of mechanics and broom wagon shepherded the riders to the finish.

My time was done and another day of forward planning and constant communication had ensured that the sportive was relatively uneventful, thanks of course to Neil, Paul and Ian and the ITP team.

Leicester Sportive Sign

Your Top 10 cycling accessories

I am writing this after a recent conversation with a friend and a subsequent post on Cheshire Mavericks Facebook page about cycling accessories.

cycling accessoriesIt all started with a conversation as to what we carry in our seatbags/ jacket pockets/ tool tubes whilst out on our bikes. There were many suggestions, and some very informative and inventive ‘necessities’ people carry around with them.

I haven’t included a phone on the list below, as this is one thing most of us do not leave home without in any case.

What’s in the bag then?

So here we go with your Top Ten of what we (should) carry whilst out on the bike:

  1. Spare Inner tube(s) – you never should go anywhere without spares and always take any used tubes back home with you for disposal, don’t leave them as litter.
  2. A means of inflating the above inner tube – be that a pump or CO2 inflator and spare cartridges.
  3. Multi tool (with tyre levers and chain splitter) – these essential tools can get you out of a multitude of situations.
  4. Tyre Boot – If a tyre splits this may be the only way that you will be able to get home under your own steam, of course you will need the above two items as well, as invariably the inner tube will ‘split’ at the same time as the tyre!
  5. Inner tube patches – if all else fails a patch can repair one of the tubes you are carrying home with you.
  6. Spare chain link – inexpensive, light and the only way that a chain can be repaired effectively.
  7. A waterproof jacket – usually carried in your back pocket, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you leave to go out, being the British Isles this means nothing, expect the worst!
  8. A supply of food for whilst out on the bike, there is nothing worse than suffering the dreaded ‘bonk’ and being unable to ride.
  9. An emergency rear light – this is an excellent idea and can be a necessity when you need to don the waterproof jacket – even in the middle of the day.
  10. Cash – last but not least, for cake, espresso and if really desperate, a means of getting home.

Everybody has their own necessities whilst out on the bike but the above is a good means of ensuring that you stay safe whilst out and have the ability to be able to get your bike back on the road and get home, and also have some cash to have a drink or refuel.

And so to the weird and the wonderful…

I was amused by some of the suggestions that came from the post and some of the more inventive are below:

  • A copy of last weeks Racing Post – obviously a necessity for protecting your chest when on those Cheshire ‘Alpine’ descents
  • A Happy Meal – really?
  • I have a top tube bag – with a 5 course meal. Now that is planning.
  • A £20 note folded makes the best tyre patch – possibly someone with too much?

And my personal favourite:

  • A copy of Yellow Pages – in case I want to buy some flowers on the way home. Very thoughtful.

One item missing from the list above is a First Aid Kit, it’s an emotive subject and one we all hope never to have to need. But a few plasters and some antiseptic cream may be a lightweight and non-bulky solution to meet those minor needs.

Call Martin on: 07929 892429

As well as helping to keep your bike in tip-top condition, I’m also keen to help you get the most out of your cycling. 

If you’re truly passionate about your bike, why not consider having a bespoke bike built to your exact specifications. See some bikes I’ve build recently on our Bike Builds page, there’s even some stunning Retro bike builds amongst them.