Tag Archives: bike

A short history of my bikes – part 6 (Iain)

I ask the man at the local bike shop. “I’d like to buy a bike to commute to work?”

“What type of bike are you looking for?”

“One which is so boring that nobody would ever want to steal it!”

“I have just the bike for you…”

Bike 7 was a Ridgeback velocity. There was nothing interesting about it at all until it was stolen from outside my work.

I thought the bike was safe – it was boring, it was parked in front of a security camera and it was locked.

I don’t know who stole the bike or how they got through the lock because when security reviewed the camera footage they could only see cobwebs and spiders. It seems when they bought the camera they didn’t realise just how appealing the casing covering it would be to eight legged creatures!

I thought I’d never see the bike again but about six months later I was jogging past a railway station when I spotted it chained to a bike rack.

It couldn’t be my bike. Could it?

I checked and it looked the same. It had the same mud guards, the same mark across the frame that mine had and it had mountain bike pedals. The same as I’d put on.

It had to be mine!

I called the police and asked them what to do. They sent two officers who waited at the bike for the thief to return.

A few hours later I got a call asking me to come back to the bike. When I got there they were standing with a man who looked similar to me. That man said the bike was his.

The police checked his story and it turned out he

  1. Worked in a university. Just as I do.
  2. Bought the bike on the cycle scheme.  Just like I had.
  3. Went to the same bike shop as I had.
  4. Added the same mud guards as I had.
  5. Added the same mountain bike pedals as I had.
  6. Had the same mark across the frame as it was a design flaw in the bike.
  7. But unlike me he had a serial number for the bike so the bike shop could confirm it was his.

I never saw my bike again. The most boring of bikes had the most interesting of endings!

A short history of my bikes – part 5 (Iain)

There’s one quote I live my life by:

“If at first you don’t succeed… make sure no-one else finds out!” 

Unfortunately I told lots of people about (failing to) ride a stage of the Tour de France. https://norseman2016.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/a-short-history-of-my-bikes-part-4-iain/ 

That didn’t put me off attempting it again the next year. This time, I didn’t tell anyone!

Andrew wanted to ride his own bike but I decided to hire one so like a pauper at a whorehouse I paid for one ride only. This was bike 6. This was the first and only time I rode it.

The stage was a loop starting and ending in the Beautiful french town of Annecy. It had never been used as a Tour de France stage before so there was no information other than this map.


On the way to the start – Andrew got a puncture! Was this a sign of drama come ? Unfortunately – yes! It wouldn’t be the last time that day I’d be stuck by the side of a road repairing Andrew’s bike.

The initial section was flat and easy as it winds it way along Lake Annecy. The weather was nice and sunny so we made good progress. The first climb was a steady incline but we felt good as we reached the summit of Col de Leschaux.

After this point the road widened so we rode side by side. Occasionally Andrew would drop behind me. I didn’t worry about it as he would appear again a few minutes later but just before the next climb Andrew dropped back and then didn’t reappear!

I stopped and waited. Hundreds of riders passed me but there was no sign of Andrew.

Eventually he turned up. His gears were broken. The chain was consistently slipping off. I tried to fix it but the problem persisted. Someone else stopped to help but they couldn’t fix it either.

Andrew decided to wait for a motorbike mechanic. I decided to head on.

The rest of the race was hard. The two climbs were long and there was barely any shade from the hot sun. On one climb I was going as fast as I could but I still got passed by a Frenchman wearing sandals on a bike with a basket full of his shopping! Lance Armstrong was right when he said – its not about the bike!

I completed the stage and received my medal. It felt good but it would have been better to finish with Andrew.

Andrew was waiting for me when I got back to the Hotel. His race had been ended by the mechanical problem. The mechanic had been unable to resolve it.

If every cloud has a silver lining then Andrews would be geting back in enough time to see Andy Murray play the Wimbledon final. The one he won!

Unfortunately his cloud had no silver lining. It was thunderbolts and lightning.  The hotel wasn’t showing the tennis so he had to sit bored out of his mind waiting for me instead!


A short history of my bikes – part 4 (Iain)

One of my ambitions in life is to appear on Channel 4’s Grand Designs. I know I’ll die happy if Kevin Macleod looks at my plan to self-build an eco-pyramid with an underground swimming pool and says: “Well, I admire your ambition!”

One of my other ambitions was to do a stage of the Tour De France. In 2012 Andrew and I signed up for “Le Tour D’etape”  a closed road sportive held every year on a stage of the Tour de France. It was a tough mountainous stage that would challenge the best cyclists. People train for years to get to the level required. I had six months and I didn’t own a road bike.

So, I purchased Bike 4. A cycle to work scheme road bike. I knew very little about bikes so I didn’t check out what gears it had – or even attempt to ride it beforehand. I bought it because I liked the colour.

All we knew about the route was this map.


The stage is 197KM from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon over 2 Haute Categories climbs and two Cat 1 climbs. The only cat I knew about goes “miaow” so the terms meant very little to me. But, I now know HC means “holy crap – how can this road keep going up!”

Over the next 6 months we trained harder than we’d ever trained before. Looking back I can see it wasn’t even close to how hard we should have trained.

At the start of race we hoped for the best but expected the worst.We positioned ourselves in the start pen for slower riders. This was a mistake as the sweeper van leaves as soon as the last pen leaves. The slowest riders, the ones who need the most time, are the ones who get the least time.

I started cycling but disaster struck as I crossed the start line  – my pump fell off! I had to stop and go back for it. The sweeper van waited as I picked it up. I was nearly swept up before I’d even got going!

I restarted and crossed the start line successfully. Andrew hadn’t stopped so it took a while to catch up. The first section to the base of Col D’Aubesque was fine. Our speed was ok. We then hit the climb….and it the road went up and up and up and….

It took us over two hours of climbing to get to the top. It was the hardest biking I’d ever done. What did we find at the top? Nothing! The weather was so wet and cold we couldn’t see anything. Which was annoying as the previous day had been beautifully sunny and warm.

The ride down the hill was torture. I’d never free wheeled for such a long distance. The lack of moving meant my hands and body were freezing cold. By the time we reached the bottom I was F**KED!

No time for a rest as we now had to start the long climb of Tourmalet. Unfortunately the sweeper wagon wasn’t far behind us.

We did our best but got swept up on Tourmalet. If a picture paints a thousand words then this picture sums up my Etape experience.


Looking back I can see where we went wrong – lack of fitness, preparation and knowledge but there’s one thing you can’t fault:  if asked I’m sure Kevin McLeod  would have said “Well, I admire your ambition!”

A short history of my bikes – part 1 (Iain)

Some people give names to their bikes. Why? If I was going to name an inanimate object then I’d rather name something that talks to me, like my telly.

  • What are you doing tonight?
  • I’ll chill with Bill.
  • Who’s Bill?
  • Bill the telly. He’s cool. He’s got Sky Sports.

If you’re giving your bike a woman’s name just so you can say “Tonight, I’ll be riding Jill hard” then you are a nob!

If that’s the case you might as well name your oven after a woman so you can say when cooking chicken “Tonight. I’ll be putting my cock in Stephanie!”

So, I don’t name my bikes. I refer to them boringly as Bike 1, Bike 2, Bike 3 etc

Once upon a bike in a far away land there was…

Bike 1 – my first love. It was a racer (which is what I called a road bike when I was at school). We were inseparable until we quite literally separated.  It snapped in two! Which was annoying as I was riding it at the time.

That sounds very dramatic but I was biking uphill and travelling so slowly that I was able to stop and get off.

I sold the bike to a school friend. His dad owned a garage so was able to weld it back together.

My friend lived at the top of a big hill. He took the bike out and rode down the hill. The bike snapped and he hit a car. He ended up in hospital with a broken leg. In my defence, he did know what he was buying…

And then there was Bike 2….

To be continued.

Am I a National hero? (Iain)

“An exhausted Jonny Brownlee was helped over the finish line by his brother Alistair who gives up the chance to win the race in a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series in Cozumel, Mexico, on Sunday.”

Would I give up a chance to win to help Andrew?


Would Andrew?

Hmmm. Maybe…

Let’s look at the evidence.

Evidence A:

During the bike leg of Challenge Henley we were cycling towards a feed stop. As we approached, Andrew was slightly behind me. As I braked to collect a water bottle Andrew continued and made contact with my back wheel.

Suddenly he was flying over the top of his bike onto the feed table before sliding along it into a wall! Like the national hero that I am, I stopped and waited for him to get back up thus losing my chance to win the race.

Although it is debatable whether I was going to win and by debatable I meant there is absolutely no debate: I wasn’t going to win unless everyone else in the race conked out too.

Luckily, he was unhurt but a bit shaken. After a quick check that all his bits were still attached to him, he got back on and continued racing.

Slightly further up the road I experienced a puncture. I shouted at Andrew that I needed to stop. He kept going…

Evidence B:

During the bike leg of Iron Man UK we were cycling towards a feed stop. As we approached Andrew was slightly behind me. As I braked to collect a water bottle Andrew slowed down and a man rode into the back of his bike!

Like the national hero that I am, I stopped and waited for him to sort out his bike as the back wheel was slightly buckled. I lost my chance to win the race (again).

Luckily, he was unhurt but a bit shaken. He got back on and continued racing.

Slightly further up the road I got a bit tired and needed to drop the pace. I shouted at Andrew to slow down. He kept going…

Now, some might say, that both incidents were caused by me braking without warning an d that would be a scurrilous accusation and I’ll see you in court if you make it!

Some might also say that in both cases Andrew had a good reason to ride away and it made no difference as he waited at the run stop for me.

Again. I reiterate the threat of court action to anyone who claims that.

Now where can I get a T-shirt printed for myself that says “National hero?”