Monday, November 30, 2009

Egg Shop

I had a nice email from a friend in London the other day who's been making furniture for the Deptford Update exhibition. This got me thinking about how much Deptford has changed since I used to visit my brother there in the late '90s. It seems to be quite the new Shoreditch. Some things seem like they haven't changed though, including this Egg Shop- still my most memorable Deptford building. This photos was taken in 2007 and it seems like it is still open. Can anyone confirm? It's a sad day if / when this gets taken over by a trendy hairdresser.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

HK Facade

A photo of a very Hong Kong facade- concrete, A/C ledges, tin ledges, washing. No 'Architecture' at all but kind of appealing in it's mix of variety & repetition. Taken today in North Point.

Training: SportTracks Workout Analysis

OK, since the Garmin review I've had a few enquiries to expand on SportTracks as a cyclist's training analysis tool. Before going into detail on the above graphs, I'll give a quick outline of what SportTracks is. SportTracks is a bit of freeware that's available to anyone that allows you to record your physical activites, be that cycling, running or whatever, in a logbook where, with the assistance of a GPS such as the Garmin 705, you can monitor where you went, all the stats that went with that, including Heart Rate (HR), the focus of this post.The reason I like SportTracks over Garmin software, or the expensive Training Peaks, are the ability to input workouts manually, edit workouts, see where I've been, see time spent in HR zones, and best of all, the Training Load plug-in, that I shall cover in a future post.

So, without further ado, the above graphs are saved from two workouts and are viewable in SportTracks under the 'Workout' pull down menu. The first graph is an individually timed time trial effort up the Peak. The second is the Science Park criterium from a week or two ago. They both plot time along the X axis and Heart Rate along the Y in Red. Speed is shown in blue and Elevation in yellow. The HR zones are defined by the karvonen method which relies on resting and max heart rate figures to define zones.

The first graph shows what I regard to be almost model heart rate data for the effort. You can see how I soon elevate my heart rate to mid Zone 4, nudging the border of Zone 5, but maintaining a very maximal threshold effort throughout the main climbing portion. This is a classic time trial effort and shows that I have learned not to make the classic time trial mistake of going too hard from the off and that I know what my maximal sustained pacing is. It is worth noting that this is done more off feel than heart rate, but analysing the data confirms this. Where the elevation tails off and the speed spikes is the one short downhill section where it is impossible to keep heart rate elevated. The final portion is where the model falls apart somewhat. This is the steepest section of the climb and while the yellow line does not reflect that in detail, the trail off in speed does. Those who know Mt. Austins will attest to how steep this is and I've seen 17% on the garmin on the steepest section. In an ideal time trial I would ramp up the final effort on this section but as you can see I was unable to do this- the HR staying in Zone 4, not 5. The reasons for this are multiple and perhaps beyond the remit of this post. What is so good is that this graph provides a very visual way of asking yourself these questions- where did I go wrong? What can I do better next time? I might also add that I recorded a PB for the course of 21.20, but that my training partners for the day, Lewis and Colin, recorded times in the 19s. So, room for improvement!

The second graph is a much more classic criterium effort- a flat course (ignore the yellow line) with surges in pace and corresponding spikes in heart rate. Reassuringly, the hardest efforts only correspond to my maximal sustained effort in the above TT effort, so I knew I wasn't burning too many matches before the sprint. It all comes to a crescendo in the finishing straight where I peaked at 2 beats off my recorded maximum of 193, just after the finish line (heart rate lags behind effort). This means I timed my sprint just right as I reached the finishing line at a 100% effort and I won the race to boot. The data confirms what I felt on the day and while I can't read as much into it as the TT graph, it is useful none the less as in the TT my max HR was 181, almost 10 beats below the full gas shown in the sprint. Two different styles of racing, two different graphs to analyse.

In an ideal world I would have power to analyse alongside this and I am well aware that this is the best way to really monitor improvements in training. However, until SRM comes down in price or my wage goes up I can't see it happening. Luckily my Garmin, and SportTracks are compatible should I go this way.

Casa das Historias

Great image from the Blueprint review of the rather lovely new 'Casa das Historias' by Eduordo Souto de Moura. This guy doesn't have a website (that I'm aware of) but he makes the most beautiful buildings that are equally low tech in terms of production- just plain old fashioned drawings.

Friday, November 27, 2009

14 Bike

A fixed gear hipster dream- 14 Bike in Spitalfiends, London town. I found out about this place via the unlikely source of competitivecyclist's whats-new. For all the misgivings of fakenger's trying to make getting run over by taxi's becasue you haven't got any brakes on cool, I think the whole fixie craze does seem to have had a knock on effect on the rest of the bike industry to start paying more attention to colour, matching components and a rediscovery of steel as a frame building material. Variety is the spice of life, so that's a good thing.

Personally I bought my fixed Harry Quinn before it became 'cool' as a way of getting into track racing and now I ride a fixed gear (with a brake) around town because it's a low maintenance solution that also happens to be a beautiful ride. Whatever, this looks like a great shop to visit and the blog isn't bad either:-

Cage Homes

The bbc just ran a story on how some of the poorest people in Hong Kong live in 2x3m hardwood boxes and how their rent just went up to $1000HK (apx $140US) / month. This made me think of the 'cage homes' (pictured) on Kowloon side also. I won't bore you with tales of woe and social inequality, but there must be a balance between the UK model of so much subsidies and council housing available that it's not worth working, and this grim reality for the poorest in HK. Source image from here:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cycling is not cool

Cycling is not cool- fact. Despite Chris Hoy's best efforts, wearing lycra is not, and never will be 'cool'. Mountain bikers who wear baggy shorts and fixed gear 'hipsters' might argue that because they're not wearing lycra shorts that makes them 'cool' but really- has anyone ever seen a pair of mountain bike shoes that could be described as 'cool'. And since fixed gear is now so popular and the hipsters try so hard, it is of course no longer cool. All of which is fine. I don't cycle to look cool, I do it to keep fit, to see great places, to get a buzz, to have a chat, to batter myself into a haze of lactic acid and because I've been doing it so long now I've just morphed into a bike geek. All the while I have to mitigate the uncoolness by offsetting with reasonably acceptable yet also function cycle clothing and immerse myself in bike kit. Not because I have an intense desire to be cool, but because I don't want to look like a complete egit (see above) and because I have a genuine interest in design as a whole. I also find riding nice bikes more enjoyable.

All of which brings me to the following- Triathlon is not cool either. But reading through this forum arguement, one could be forgiven for thinking that triathletes think they're cooler than cyclists (as well as better equipped in the training / equipment sectors) and that cyclists think they're cooler than triathletes. People, let's not argue. Both sports are not cool and will never be cool. Both sports will contain people who will operate on various degrees of coolness and various degrees of tech geekdom / fitness levels. Surely we can all just get along?

I might add that deep down I have quite a hatred for IronmanTM, but that is nothing to do with being cool, and everything to do with marketing Bullsh*t, a $400US entry fee and cr*ppy tatoos on calves. It doesn't mean I hate 'Ironmen' per se. Ironmen can be cool also, it's just hard to believe them when they're wearing their budgee smugglers. Which are, of course, less cool than the still very uncool lyrca shorts I wear. I think... discuss.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vitsoe 606

There's a couple of great exhibitions on at the London Design Museum at the minute (or so I hear)- David Chipperfield & Dieter Rams. Here's a picture of the the modular shelving Dieter Rams did for Vitsoe back in 1960. His Braun stuff is also classic. I really like his 10 design mantras, especially the last one:
Good design is as little design as possible.

Bicycle for Lovers

I 'love' the translation from Italian for this rather nice looking machine:

A beauty from past times with today's technology. A new road frame with a little vintage look, for lovers of beautiful and refined objects. Dedicated to the many lovers of the genre, it will fascinate for details and finishing.

So there you have it- a bicycle for lovers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shenzhen Style

Do the monotonous tower blocks and foreground bollard give it away that I'm racing in Shenzhen? Not quite the result I was after but decent racing all the same. TJ's race report here:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Container St.

Some sketches for a street full of container houses. I like the idea that they are all adaptable to different people's needs and personalities. They therefore take on different appearances and give a variety reminiscent of amsterdam's modern canal houses. They'd also be cheap and eco- given their recycled credentials. I'm not sure which mine would be yet (needs more thought). Which do you like?

No Handed Fashion Guru

I should do a 'Style Icon' posting on Paul Smith (his blog is also worth a read), but in the meantime check this YouTube clip:

Sunday, November 22, 2009


View Hong Kong bikesandbuildings in a larger map

I already posted once about the view of the chopsticks from Happy Valley, but why not again? This morning was a beautiful day in Hong Kong and was made even better by the discovery of a little oasis of calm- the Jewish Cemetary in Happy Valley. Not a single visitor other than us and a great park bench in full sun. All we needed was a cup of coffee and the paper to complete the Sunday morning feel.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Solar Rant

I spent today at the launch Ceremony cum Conference (their spelling not mine) for the Hong Kong Green Building Council. I won't bore you with the details but one thing that is quite evident and has been getting on my t*ts for some time is the worldwide obsession with Zero Carbon Buildings is a load of tosh- the only Zero Carbon Buildings are mud huts fit for a caveman. All these Zero Carbon buildings are is buildings that consume x% less energy than normal rubbish buildings and make up the shortfall through inefficient locally generated power sources. Like PV panels that take 40 years to pay back their investment cost- it just doesn't make sense! There was a good reason why we moved to centralised power stations all those years ago- they offer economies of scale. And so centralised solar power stations also make sense- like this one, where reflectors that track the sun can maximise their effectiveness. It's all just a 'feel good factor', like carbon offsetting might make you feel that flying isn't bad for the environment. More emphasis should be put on quantifiable numbers, such as kilowatt hours consumed per m2 per annum, not bullsh*t tack on 'green features'. Rant over.

Style Icon: Chris Hoy

It's been a while since I posted a 'style icon'. I originally started drafted this posting around the time of this post but unfortunately my hopes of meeting Chris and getting beaten by him on the boards of Laoshan in aid of promoting breakfast cereal now lie in tatters... For which I don't blame Chris, and which doesn't stand in the way of him being an undisuted 'style icon'. I've always thought he was 'cool' but what must classify him as super cool is that the UK public think so also. He's the first cyclist to win sports_personality_of_the_year since Tommy Simpson, which is an era of overpaid football star obsession is seriously impressive. You can blame / credit the recession (and his PR crew) but Chris has evidently become a symbol of hard work and dedication. He's also made wearing skin tight lycra more socially acceptable! None of us wear that sh*t beacuse it looks good (well maybe some) but because it works well and when you're 5hrs into a ride the last thing you want to be thinking about is a chaffing arse. So thank you Chris, if one less driver shouts at me outside of a window then that's a job well done. He also epitomises a certain Scottishness and this image sums that up just nicely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

US is f*cked up pt.2

Would look good here.


Being the saddo that I am I was watching Dan Crookshackle's 'Around the World in 80 Treasures' the other night on one of the BBC's channels for out of touch people not living in the UK (hey- at least it wasn't another repeat of 'Grand Designs'). And Dan was 'doing' the Bauhaus. And what was his treasure? A freaking Brno chair! Now I'm sorry but if we're talking treasures surely we should be talking something that isn't still produced by Knoll and available with a flash of the Visa on amazon?!? I like the chair but surely there was a cool one off teapot or prototype armoured suit he could have used instead? Lame.

Lake District

The sort of image that makes you want to get out on the mountain bike and risk life & limb!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Impossible Hour

With news that Cancellara is having a go at the hour record and also that Obree dumps his hour record plans it seemed a good time to watch 'The Impossible Hour', another Jorgen Leth production. I was quite struck by one of the opening gambits on how Ritter's record attempt bike weighed just 5.45kg, employed the "most advanced alloys" and "the proportions between handlebar and saddle... divulge somewhat from the normal". Heck, he even had some prototype clipless pedals. This was seriously cutting edge and 5.45kg is still insanely light for a bike (UCI weight limit is even now 6.8kg), so at what point did the UCI decide this era of technology is what defines the 'Athlete's Hour', which is what Cancellara will have a go at? As much as I love the aesthetics of this era of cycle sport I also love the cutting edge and it does seem a shame we're denied it now thanks to the UCI beurocrats. A great film for training on the turbo irrespective- Ritter had a seriously smooth pedalling style.

Costa Lanta

Our Xmas destination- the rather nice looking Costa Lanta resort, designed by duangrit_bunnag architects. Not long now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Every Mountain Biker Needs A Shed

'Every Mountain Biker Needs A Shed'- so read the title in Singletrack magazine. It's not something I'd dispute, but here in HK we're talking one expensive shed! And so we have to make do with other solutions and think outside the box a little. I've just revamped the spare room with two new IKEA bookcases that try to contain all my junk, I mean vital spare parts, tools and clothing. Out of shot are about 5 sets of wheels, my Camelbacks, my other bikes etc. Seeing it all laid out like this I'm actually quite amazed I've managed to collect so much stuff in less than 2 years as I certainly didn't arrive with it all but I'm much happier for it. A man without tools is like a woman without shoes. "Yes of course honey, it's the bare minimum a 21st Century cyclist needs to survive".

King's Cross Gasometer

I'm pleased the competition to design an 'events space' in the King's Cross Gasholder has gone to the young practice Bell Phillips & Kimble. I can really imagine sitting up there looking out onto St. Pancras with the gangsters and the whores, sorry hip young things below.

I Tai Geometry

This is a really good link to help understand bike geometry. I'd never realised that Italian road bikes typically have a lower B/B and hence corner better. I always thought that legendary Italian bike handling was a bit of a myth to do with 'romance' and 'heritage' rather than anything tangible but now I think about it my old Bianchi Pantani special was a very sweet handling bike.

Earth Engines

OK, this doesn't have anything to do with bikes (though it looks like good riding country), and it's not a building but it is a very nice image. And actually in a way it does say something quite profound about man's interventions into nature- which is what building are, even when the evidence may be thin on the ground, such as deep into Mong Kok. It would be interesting to do an exhibition taking loads of Nathan Rd. flourescent signs and dumping them on Hong Kong's hillsides.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Colossi Wins

Report for yesterday's Colossi criterium wins now up on: . Nice image above of ColinR on his way to a win in the 30's cat. For me it's been a long time since I had that totally focused tunnel vision cranking the 53x12 down the final straight, heart on the limit, 56kph on the speed dial, but wow- I really loved it.

Kowloon Tong Liebskind

I passed the site for this new Universtity building in Hong Kong's Kowloon Tong yesterday, where they've cast some concrete and the shape is starting to come through. It's a 'Creative Media Centre' by Daniel Liebskind- better known for his Jewish Museum in Berlin, getting screwed over for his work in the site of the NYC trade centre, and being an all round 'I'll baffle you with words that I just made up into thinking that I'm just the guy to provide a metaphysical response to your culturally sensitive building problem'. Which is fair enough when it comes to issues like the holocaust (whether you buy into the hype or not) but what about University buildings? To me, just as all Artist's really want is a functional 'white box', not some wild shape attack, why should Creative Media students want some jagged shaped building with weird rooms and funny windows? I can see how the University wants to promote how progressive and cutting edge they are by commissioning a 'signature' Architect, but I can't help thinking the money would have been better spent on staff and equipment. And if they'd just built a functional box maybe they could have used the money saved to buy some cladding? Beauty through material, not crazy shapes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: What Tubs?

Some thoughts on that pressing question :- what tubs?

The German powerhouse has always been my tub of choice over the years. I've tried Competitions, Sprinters, Sprinter Gatorskins, Giros and Podiums. My conclusion is that one tire combines the criteria of value for money, rolling resistance, durability, weight and grip- the Sprinter. I'd agree that Competitions are a better choice if value for money / durability aren't such an issue but at pushing 50 pounds a pop it's a hard pill to swallow if you puncture. I found the Gatorskins to add a little grip in the wet at the cost of rolling resitance and weight but most bizarrely I puntured them very quickly. Giros seem to defeat the object of tubs- performance, and Podiums are a bit sketchy as a 19mm tire but seem to be surprisingly durable. GP4000s are an option I haven't tried but all in, the Sprinter seems to suit my needs and I can handle the 25 pound replacement cost once they go. The other thing I like about Continental tubs is that I can add some stans to the tubes to add extra thorn protection / small cuts, but Stans won't cover you against a ripped valve stem.

One of the reasons I posted this was I recently had my Continental loyalty tested when my brand new second hand Corima deep sections came fitted with a pair of Corsa Evo CX. And to say I was impressed by the ride is an understatement. It's difficult to be completely objective as the wheels were a variable but they certainly roll nice and the dual compound / tread seems a good idea. Where these tires fall down is in their use of latex tubes which means 2 things. 1./ You can't put Stans inside and 2./ they loose nigh on 20psi per day which means less sleep in the morning as I have to get the track pump out. I guess the pro's don't have to worry about such things. The only other Vittoria I've tried is the Rally, which is terrible beyond belief. They're also doing a version of the Rubino Pro which sounds interesting and competes with the Sprinter on price point.

Everything I read about Tufo (like riding in melted tarmac) puts me off them but they are useful for one thing- spare tubs. Because of the way they are made, Tufos fold up very small- almost the size of a clincher tube. Combined with a CO2 this'll fit neatly in your rear pocket. Yet another reason not to use those pesky clinchers.

One last word, my recommended reading for tubs in general if you don't know too much / are debating the glue / tape issue (I'm a recent reconvert back to glue) is the following Now, I'm off to add another layer of glue. In Rapha world, how romantic?!?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tonks TTT express

This isn't far off what I spent this most of this morning seeing as I tried to stay in contact with the Tonks TTT Express. We (I use the term loosely given how much time I spent on the front) clocked 1:08:24 for 48.5km which I think is a new SIR TTT record on a windy day in Tung Chung. Phew!


New carbon fibre weave meets digiitised paint job? Nice album cover whatever.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The New Rapha?

Retro tech movement continues. I do like the sound of their Merino lined jackets, having experienced the healing qualities of the magical NZ sheep on a Pyreneean hillside this summer.

Margaret Bursa

Amazing drawing. Enough said.

Jorgen Leth

Stars and Watercarriers - 1973 Giro. Feels like 360 years ago, not 36 but awesome all the same. Thanks to the 11toothassasin aka for the link.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'm seriously impressed that some German nutter has built a DIY electronic Dura-Ace shifting system to go on his home made carbon bike. All hail 'shed tech'.


"This wildly expansive art installation by Felice Varini can be found in Vercorin, Switzerland. If viewed from various points around the town, floating white circles reveal themselves to the viewer. Up close, the trick is exposed, but it barely diminishes the stunning amount of planning that surely went into this project." Cool, but really- why?!?


A new rival for Giro D'Italia favourite Stelvio's position as Top Gear's favourite road: the Transfagarasan in Transilvania. Questionable name (!), but must be a cracker to ride.

IF Grid

Stripes / Grids- I'm there. If it was mine I'd call it 'swamp thing'.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Best advert I've seen in a long time. More to come on this I hope...

The Drum Up Lives On

"I’m sitting next to Jimmy Docherty, and he’s telling me about a new Cannondale bike he’s acquired, and how he still has the cycling shoes he bought in 1948."

The Wolf

Saw a nice book in GOD last night called 'Hong Kong Inside Outside'. This image especially caught my imagination- it reminds me of old tape decks where you had to slide a button to change the volume. Except this is scaffolding. Something of the Gursky about this guy's photos also.

Look Up

One of the first photos I took of some very normal buildings when I first visited Hong Kong, and still a favourite. I think my neck was quite craned in that first week, whereas now it's just normal and you stop looking up. Humans adapt to their surroundings- sometimes the best eye you have for a place is when it's all fresh and you're still 'looking'.

Monday, November 9, 2009

If Rapha Made Pick Axes

If Rapha made pick axes they could sell them for 100's of pounds and take 'romantic' photos of people digging- like this. Source file here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Review: Flying Pigeon vs. Yeti

Whilst getting some wood cut on the Lockhart Rd., two Hong Kong cycling icons went head to head in a Wan Chai shoot out. In the red corner, the fisherman's favourite- the Flying Pigeon. In the blue, the HKmtb'ers bike de jour- the Yeti 575. Who wins?

Carrying Sh*t
The built in basket on the back of the Pigeon makes it a clear winner. Fish won't jump out and it never needs cleaning! The Yeti is let down by not having any pannier racks or built in baskets. The Yeti surprised us by being able to handle 3 large made to measure shelves stretched between handlebar and saddle but we were worried about scratching the carbon bars.

Life Safety
The disc brakes on the Yeti might stop you getting run over by a lorry or running over a pedestrian but the self imposed speed limit of riding a 45lb Flying Pigeon with fish for cargo and 10psi tires may be of more value.

Picking up Hookers
Let's face it, if you've got the cash what does it matter what bike you ride? I'd certainly rather lock up a Pigeon than a Yeti on the streets of Wan Chai given the Pigeon probably costs less than the Yeti front wheel.

So there you have it, the Pigeon is a clear winner in today's Wan Chai shoot out. Now, on to those shelves...

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Classic HK ride this morning- the SIRloin (2xShek-O>Peak). Great ride but phew, bushed!

>4hr28 ride time
>2400m elevation gain
>1.02 shek o - austins> 1st lap
>1.08 shek o - austins> 2nd lap
>6400 Garmin calories expended (4000 real calories?)
>1 iced coffee, 1 latte, 1 pocari sweat, 1 Gu Energy drink, 1 lucozade, 2 water.
>2 cereal bars, 2 salt tabs, 1 gel, 1 banana, 1 keish
>1 cramp
Feeling after it all- priceless.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Saw some images the other day of a new Urbanus scheme that reinterprets the Tulou, which prompted me to look up the UNESCO originals. These things really rock- a unique housing form that encapsulates so much about China as pockets of community. And they look doughnuts, which is nice.

Look at the Look Mondrian

With both black and white Look 595's now adorning the SIR peleton, how long until we get a Look with a serious paint job?