Friday, December 18, 2009

A Spider Bought a Bicycle

A spider bought a bicycle
And had it painted black
He started off along the road
With an earwig on his back
He sent the pedals round so fast
He travelled all the day
Then he took the earwig off
And put the bike away.

Phyllis Flowerdew (1913-1994)

And on that note I'm off to Thailand till the New Year (without a bike) to drink coco coladas and eat pineapple rice. Don't expect too much bikesandbuildings chat in the interim. Merry Christmas!

Bumps in Beijing

Some pretty container chic housing in Beijing.

Dolan Forza

If I had a few spare thousand pounds knocking about and lived next to a velodrome I'd be pretty tempted by this- a very nice track machine. Incidentally, Terry Dolan was trained by Harry Quinn RIP and has provided many bikes to the likes of Chris Boardman and Chris Hoy over the years.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pro Bike Pron: Boardman's Lotus

Recent posts about UCI hour records, bikes designed by car designers and the Chris Hoy book can only mean one thing:- time to recap on the original 'Superbike':- Chris Boardman's Lotus. There's lots of stuff out there on the story of this bike, which isn't my place to elaborate on. All I'd like to say is that for f*cks sake this photo was taken 18 years ago! And what has changed since? Well the UCI banned it and we went backwards. The latest pursuit / TT bikes might be lighter but, despite Cervelo's claims, I'll bet they're still not as aero as this. And even if the P4 is more aero it really cannot compare with the Lotus in terms of elegance and simplicity. This is something that is often poo-poo'ed by cyclists, as if it shouldn't matter what it looks like, it's only how it performs that matters. I'd agree that performance should always be a priority over aesthetics but to me what is truly beautiful is that which combines both form and function. And the Lotus would seem to have been born out of the modernist dictum of form follows function.

Now I would like to further analyse that form a little further. When you look at the bike there are some obvious innovations such as the monoblade deep section fork, the reduction of frontal area at the cost of any notion of comfort, the mounting of the track cog on the outside rather than the inside of the frame, but most of all it's the sweeping lines that define the frame that give the bike it's distinctive profile. And those curves are born from parabolic geommetry defined as per the below:

It's as if Mike Burrows took a look at the work of Frei Otto and thought hey how can we make that work on a bicycle. On that count it must rank as a 'bikesandbuilding' classic. Design is design whatever the discipline. Frei Otto was inspired by nature and wrote a book on the subject that is also very inspiring. Whatever inspired Burrows to come up with the Lotus, it is a truly awesome machine that will remain a classic and an inspiration to all to always try to think outside the box.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lambo Jet

Tenuous link on how to get this car on my bikes and buildings blog- The guy who designed it should take over the design of this. Bad Ass.

Kwai Tsing

View Hong Kong bikesandbuildings in a larger map

Hong Kong is home to the biggest container terminal in the world- Kwai Tsing. I have to work out a way to actually visit rather than just passing by. Even if I could get a taxi to drop me off I'm not sure there'd be any there to pick me up / get me out! This link is certainly worth a read for container fixation factoids:

Mr Ridley

Just a nice photo taken on the way out to Shek O this w/end

Monday, December 14, 2009

RCA Sawtooth

Lovely refurb job just down the road from the mothership in Battersea, London- very plain, very simple. Those RCA students are very lucky.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Last ride with Bob

A photo from Saturday's ride on Tai Mo Shan that marks my last ride with the HKMBA's chairman, Bob Smith (centre). A sad day in many respects but such is the nature of Hong Kong- people come, people go. All I'll say is that I'll miss Bob more than most- a true friend and someone who I'll certainly stay in contact with and no doubt one day meet up with again.


Very pleased to have a proper SLR camera again so I can get photos like this taken just outside our front door in Happy Valley. I like a black Aston. My wheels are pictured behind...

Training: SportTracks Power without Power

As a follow up to my previous training post on crit vs. TT SportTracks Workout Analysis I thought I'd post on yesterday morning's annual SIR Peak TT. However, this time I've put an angle towards a new plug-in I discovered via thebikegeek who has done an excellent post on how to make the best use of SportTracks with Garmin here

The plug-in I'm talking about is the rather excellent 'Power' plug-in, available here. This takes all the inputs of your GPS data (i.e. elevation, speed etc.), combines them with the inputs you've put into SportTracks about your weight (bike + person + equipement), your position on the bike as well as your tyres (giving a rough aerodynamic / rolling resistence factor) and then searches for the nearest weather station to get the latest head / tail wind information. Add all these things together with some fancy formula and you can get an approximation of power to analysise after your ride, all for free and with no power meter attached to your bike. I'm pretty blown away that some nutter actually wrote the script for this to happen and publishes it for free but hey the internet is a wonderful thing!

Of course, in an ideal world I'd have a wireless SRM but in the interim I think this is a pretty good solution. If we say there is probably an error margin of +/- 10% then that's not too bad. Of course for group riding it's not going to take into account drafting etc. but you can't have everything. I'd love to test the plug in by having an actual power meter on the bike to compare with, maybe sometime in the future.

For the record, the winner's SRM data looked something like this:

Average speed: 23.0kph
Average power: 425W
Norm power: 431W
Average power excluding descent: 436W

And the time's looked something like this:

1) Colin - 18.23 ***NEW COURSE RECORD****
2) Ed - 20.35
3) Da Skunk - 21.14
4) Mark B - 21.34
5) Bemet - 21.41
6) James R - 22.38
7) James Mac - 22.50
8) Bo - 23.10
9) Dave - 23.17
10) Wim - 23.20
11) Peter - 24.02
12) Paul - 24.50
13) Keith - 26.40

So, I came in 2nd, 2 minutes down on Colin's quite amazing time. I was very pleased to have knocked best part of a minute off my PB largely due to being able to give Mt. Austin my full effort (thank you '29 rear cassette). The SportTracks plug-in data came up with 350 watts as my average power and I was on a 20.4kph average speed. If Colin's time was 10% quicker then you'd have thought that given we are a similar weights my time would require 90% of the power but 350 watts is only 82% of 425. I don't know what the exact relationship is between power and speed, other than on flat TT's it's generally a curve that says the faster you go the more expodential power you will need. Another way to put it is that it's a law of diminishing returns. On a hill climb aerodynamics are less of a factor so perhaps the 'power without power' figures are a little low, or within the error margin. Whatever, I'm pleased I have a new set of numbers to look at for these sort of efforts that certainly say more about the effort than speed, and that put the magnitude of Colin's ride into perspective.

Oh yes, and on a lighter note here's a picture of us waiting for the coffee shop to open after the TT (something not quite right about that...)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Standing Start

Fantastic 15min documentary loosely based around Craig MacLean and standing starts.

Lego Hoose

Wasted on James May?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Knob

-insert joke about cyclist wearing rapha lycra here-

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Factor 001

I was all set to slag off this new F1 uber bike for the mega rich until I read the cozy beehive discussion that talks you through the power analysis system at the crank, which is the only bit of true innovation I can find on this bike. But seeing as it's 22,000 quid I might as well slag it all the same:
  • Most of the design ideas that might look novel (except for a slight twist on the cranks) have been done before. The wheels are stolen from a 15 year old Mike Burrows design, The fork assembly is the same as a Look track bike, the discs look like my 10 year old Hope Minis, the dropped seatstay could be from all manner of TT / Tri bikes and the integrated DI2 cabling (couldn't they do wireless?) is also not new any more.
  • It doesn't even hit the UCI weight limit. Given we're talking a UCI illegal bike you'd have thought they'd want to break this rule also.
  • 22,000 is a lot of money for a bike you can't race on. Though granted those who can afford it are unlikely to.
  • I think it's plain fugly.
  • Looks to me like they fitted it with clinchers...
This probably all says something about how good a designer Mike Burrows was. But Lewis Hamilton is meant to be getting one so no doubt it'll sell to a few rich boy petrol heads who know nothing about Lotus superbikes...

Top 10 Buildings of the Decade

My vote for building of the decade goes to the Beijing Bird's Nest. Not because I think it's the 'best' building of the decade but because I think it is most representative of the decade. Here are my reasons:
  • Just in case anyone hadn't realised the new China had arrived, here's a big fat reminder.
  • Just in case anyone hadn't realised we can now make buildings in pretty much whatever shape we want here's a big fat remider.
  • Just in case anyone hadn't realised the decade was one of excess here's a big fat reminder.
On a more personal note, it's a building where I loved the concept, loved the images and was very excited to go and see. However the reality was a bit of a disappointment. Like so much of Beijing it's a bit of a diamond in a sea of excrement and it is so grey the above image could only have been done in Photoshop. Which also seems quite representative of the noughties...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pile of Boxes

I was doing some research the other day on the James Taylor facade of SANAA's rather delectably clad New York New Museum of Contemporary Art. This led me to a bloomberg review that criticised the spaces for being too much of "a deep freeze for art". I haven't visited the gallery but to me this must be one of the more imaginative museums of recent years. I love the concept of a shifting pile boxes that provide clerestory natural light as a result of the shifts, and which give the gallery its very unique form. The fact the museum acheives formal originality while retaining simple white box gallery spaces that don't scream 'watch out for the Architect' is in my mind to be commended. Surely the world doesn't need any more Zaha horror shows. I look forward to a trip to NYC to judge for myself.

Photo stolen from archidose.

Cook Bros Racing

They're back!

Monday, December 7, 2009

2012 Velodrome

The first construction images I've seen on the 2012 London Velodrome here. I remember being disappointed to hear that the gluelam beams specced for the roof structure had been substituted for steel but it seems like they have now come up with a new lightweight cable net system instead. All sounds great and looking good!,131/

Bike Bookcase











I just finished Richard Moore's book on Chris Hoy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Rather than saying any more about this book I thought I'd put together a little list of what I consider to be a cyclist's bookcase essentials. A by no means exhaustive list (one always needs books to read) but a selection of some of the better bike books I've read. I've also added the list to the blog content just above the 'bike links' section.

Flying Scotsman

Heroes, Villains and Velodromes

In Search of Robert Millar

It's Not About the Bike

Put Me Back on My Bike

Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape

The Rider

The Great Road Climbs of the Pyrenees

Tour De France: The History, The Legend, The Riders 

Tomorrow, We Ride

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tai Hang Stall

A nice trip to Tai Hang this afternoon where I took this photo. I really like the imaginative ways in which stall owners close up shop and protect themselves from the elements / surrounding theives. Here in HK they generally show a remarkable amount of trust with regards to the latter which says something about the safety of the community as a 'self policing' environment. I think the variety on offer would also make a great photo journalism exhibition topic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lantau in November

A slight cheat on the blogger modus operandi of only uploading photos taken the same day but I thought this image reflected some of the spirit of today's ride up to the Big Buddha in Lantau. A few key differences- my Buddha ride last year was with my friend Mark, pictured, who was visiting Hong Kong from Glasgow. Today I was trying to hold pace with two of Hong Kong's cycling 'big hitters' (Tonks & Robertson) so the weight / bulk of camera was not going to help! It was also a bit faster, quite a bit further at 120km and a lot harder, but equally glorious. November really is one of the nicest months for cycling in Hong Kong and I've been glad to make the Buddha pilgramage under clear blue skies and reasonable temperatures 2 years in a row now. Much better than the damp squib that is November in the UK...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Then and Now

Hong Kong used to be cool (and a bit smaller), no doubt about it. For more indulgences like the above check the following flickr gallery:-


The new issue of Rouleur is out and unsurprisingly there's a Cyclocross image on the cover. Just in case any of you missed the 'Hipster Discuss Cycloscross' video thats been doing the rounds it's here. And it's pretty funny. I'm quite sure the reality is that CX is still groups of slightly mental roadies with the odd mtb'er racing around muddy fields in skinsuits, in the UK at least, but CX does seem to be enjoying a 'cool' moment right now.

Roberto is still the only CX rider I know in HK. Maybe the half dozen fixed gear hipsters will organise off road alley cats now? Could be fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Skye Hoose

Very beautiful, very simple and what a site! Perfect Scottish mtb'ers hideaway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eddy Merckx Cycles RIP

I spent last night at a rather bizarre function at the Belgian consul-general's residence on the Peak. This was supposedly to celebrate Eddy Merckx Cycles coming to China but seemed to be more of a knees up for random Belgian people to hang out in, speak flemish and eat Dim Sum looking out onto one of the greatest views of Hong Kong available. I met management consultants and lawyers etc. most of whom were very surprised to hear that it is possible to cycle in Hong Kong... Actually the most interesting conversation I had was with an Architect I know who told a story about a guy building a plane on the 15th storey of a flat in Discovery Bay who had to take the windows out and have it craned out when he moved out of the flat.

All of which leads me to the rather sad state of Eddy Merckx Cycles. Since Eddy left the company some guy has taken it over with more 'commercial interests' than Eddy. Last night seemed to opitimise that. But for general commercial lameness, just check out their above flagship bike. A number of points of interest- the new logo and paint scheme are just sh*t, it's equipped with carbon clinchers & ShimaNO (Eddy would turn in his grave if he was dead) and worst of all, it just looks like a rebranded Specialized. The CEO last night was talking about taking on the market at the highest end. Appropriately enough, Merckx taking over from Specialized in their sponsership of QuickStep for 2010 would seem to opitimise that- Eddy Merckx Cycles is now just a wannabe Specialized, but without the value for money, the range of bikes, or the R&D etc etc. I wish they could think outside the box a little and take note of companies like Cervelo and Ridely who have carved out niches at the highest level based on the fact they are immediately recognisable as their own brand, not just another Specialized.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lamma Enduro

Sunday past was an Enduro in the trueist sense of the word- a seriously hard how far can you ride in 5hrs endurance / suffer fest. I'm still waiting for official results but I'm pretty sure I was 6th overall and 4th in age category which is about as good as I can really hope for on a course with 2000m of climbing when up against 65kg Chinese guys. To be honest I just can't consider a 5hr mtb race on this course a race- it's just too insanely hard. I can race for 2 to 3 hours but after that it's not a race, it's an exercise in cramp avoidance. To put that into perspective I had 9 salt tablets, 7 litres of fluid (including electrolytes) as well as about 4 bananas and still cramped. Despite being only apx. 50km this race was up there with a 220km road race I did in Thailand in terms of effert expended according to the trusty Garmin / SportTracks. Maybe a team effort next year?!?