The new Rapha 2010 range was announced today, and as ever it looks amazing.

For me though, the standout piece is the Country Jersey.

rapha.jpg Image copyright Rapha

I'll have the black one please. If only I could justify the outlay. I need to ride more, thats it. Then I can have one...

Edit: Yes, I do have one and it is amazing. Still going strong after almost 2 years. Only problem? I've lost weight and need to go a size smaller!

Yesterday was not the best ride I have ever had to be honest! It became one of those days!

I was 5 minutes from home (at the bottom of a steep hill) when I had to slam my brakes on hard to miss a car that had jumped a junction. My weight came down on the nose of the saddle and the saddle slipped on the seatpost. I pulled over and went to adjust the saddle and found I had left my allen keys in the seat pack on my MTB. Cursing my stupidity I had to cycle back home to get them and fix my seat.

After wasting that time I headed back out on a shorter route. Half way out I got a puncture (my first on my road bike). Luckily I had checked my seat pack and put my tyre levers in when I picked up my allen keys. Otherwise I would have been faced with a long walk home...

The moral of the story; always remember to check you have tools with you.

Book store

For a bit of fun I have started a little cycling orientated bookstore on Amazon.

The On My Bike book store

I'm aiming to add more books here overtime, but if you have any you think people should read add them to the comments below.

Bah, no ride...

Sick child on Sunday scuppered my usual ride. Which was a shame as the weather looked good.

Work is pretty busy this week so I'm not going to get a ride in the day. I am going to try and get to Palmer Park Velodrome on Tuesday though. Before the snow arrives...

Snow ride

We are still snow bound here in Reading, and while the main roads are drivable any smaller roads are treacherous. Rather than risking it on the road bike, I took my mountain bike out for a ride in the snow.

I didn't go far, but the resistance from the snow provided me with a great work out!

Taking a rest in the snow

I got up early this morning to get a ride in before tackling all the jobs Clare had for me, and opened the curtains to a sunny and very cold morning. Perfect!

Lots of layers was the order of the day, and I started the ride with 4; a Trekmates merino long sleeve baselayer, Endura long sleeve cycling top, Gore Oxygen SO jacket and a Pearl Izumi Gilet. I often start with the gilet and then pack it away once I have warmed up -- while it is thinm the extra wind barrier takes a little edge off. I also had on double gloves, merino socks and overshoes. I was prepared for the elements!

I wanted to try some roads I had not ridden before, so headed out of Reading down the Oxford Road to Pangbourne. From there I turned off left then right towards Upper Basildon. Upper being the word here as the road climbed straight up! I kept a steady pace but was glad when the road flattened. What I wasn't expecting was ungritted roads and I struggled to stay up right at times.

From there I looped under the M4 to Bradfield. Not having done this route before I didn't expect the very steep short climb through Bradfield village. That was really hard going! I need to loose some weight to help my climbing, as hauling my body up those type of steep hills is really hard going...

Then the road dropped down to Theale, and I followed the road back to Pangbourne, and retraced my steps back to Caversham. My pace was not great overall, partly due to the hills taking it out of me and not having done much riding over Christmas.

Great to be out in the cold though!

4 weeks off the bike

I was doing so well too...

A combination of flu, Clare being very ill, and the run up to Christmas meant I went almost a month without a ride. I really missed the bike.

Clare bought we some overshoes and Merino cycling socks, so I was itching to give them a spin. I only managed a quick 1.5hr ride in between family commitments, but boy was it good to get out. It was bright and crisp wether too. Perfect.

After a week of no rides (due to a very sick wife and having to mind the children), I managed to find an hour of free time today to have a ride.

Just as I was putting my kit on the heavens opened, with torrential rain. 'Good chance to try out my new jacket' I thought! By the time I got the bike out the rain had stopped which I thought was a good sign.

I head out to around the back of Mapledurham, climbing steadily and avoiding the massive pools of water on the narrow b roads. I could see the big rain clouds ahead of me and realised that my loop was taking me back into them! I turned off by the Oratory Public School, and headed down the hill towards Pangbourne, at which point the rain started. It hammered down. The hill down to Pangbourne is 20% and goes on for long way. According to my GPS I hit 49.5mph coming down, which if even close summed up how scary the descent was in the wet.

At the bottom I turned left and headed back to Reading, over the bridge and up Woodcote Road, where the hill (a mere 12%) almost finished me off.

My new Gore Oxygen SO jacket was amazing, and kept me dry the entire way. What I didn't expect was how cold my feet were. I don't have overshoes, and the water off the road had formed into a pool at the bottom of my shoes. Yuck. That plus the cold temperature had turned my feet into ice.

I'm off to buy some overshoes tomorrow...

Last night I went to Palmer Park Velodrome in Reading for the first time. Every Tuesday and Thursday during the winter they hold open rack sessions for anyone that wants to come down and do some training.

I really want to keep training over the winter months, but the prospects of tacking the pitch black rat runs (country lanes) around here were not very appealing! So I decided to give the track session a go and I am glad I did.

The sessions run from 8.15pm until 10pm at the outdoor floodlit track. I arrived just after 8pm to find a packed out car park. I quickly changed, and wheeled my bike through the sports centre doors to pay my £3.35 to ride. I signed in at the trackside and as a track 'virgin' had a quick run through of track etiquette.

I was quite nervous to begin with if I am honest. Partly because I didn't think I could keep up, but also because I didn't want to get shouted at for cutting someone up! I need not have worried as everyone was really friendly and there was a real mixture of abilities.

To begin with I stayed up on the banking and warmed up. Gradually I moved down nearer the blue line, constantly keeping an eye out behind me for anyone approaching fast! I soon realised that I was doing an Ok speed and settled into it. After about half an hour a train formed of about 30 riders. It was my first experience of riding in a bunch and I had not prepared myself for the concentration needed -- it really was 'eyes out on stalks' time! But a lot of fun too.

Will I go back? Yes, for sure. I want to try and make one session a week through the winter if I can.

You can see how Runkeeper handled tracking my ride below:

After what seemed like days of rain, and high winds, this morning was perfect weather for a ride.

My aim was to try and do a longer ride. In fact, further than I had ridden in years. I wanted to go to Wallingford and back, which I reckoned would be about 25 miles. This would start to show me if my fitness was improving and would be a break from usual shorter routes, which seem to follow the same roads.

I picked out a rough route on google maps before I went, donned my new windstopper (a Gore Oxygen SO) and set off.

As usual I struggled for the first 30 minutes of the ride, but tried to keep in a lower gear and a higher cadence to live with it. The route was a gradual drag up hill past Goring Heath and to Woodcote. Then I kept to B roads across to South Stoke, which featured a monster downhill. I seriously need to get fitter before attempting to climb back up that! Then a few rolling roads across to Wallingford.

I skirted around the outside and headed back on the other side of the river. The route through Cholsey and through to Streatley was a little up and down but the main feature was a terrible head wind. It really knocked the stuffing out of me and my legs were feeling heavy.

I turned left at Streatley and went through Goring. I knew I had a big climb ahead back up to the top of the hills before heading home, but I didn't realise quite how big! About a third of the way I turned a sharp left and the road just rose in front of me. I went to drop into lower gears and I realised I only had one left! I'm not afraid to say I did walk a small bit until the slope levelled a bit. I need to get fitter and loose weight to help my climbing...

The rest of the climb was still steep but easier for me to get into a rythm, followed by a nice blast back into Caversham. All in all a great ride.

I did learn that I need to increase my base fitness a lot and loosing some weight will really help me up some of the hills.

Me: Matt Carey

I run Lift Creative Communication Design with my wife Clare and have two fantastic children....

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