Monthly Archives: April 2014

First triathlon

Completed my first triathlon today – yay! I came a miserable 144th out of 166. Pish, eh? However, there’s lots of room for improvement.

I managed to do the swim without stopping, however I was still 8th slowest out of 166. I followed this up with the 2nd slowest first transition out of the entire field – holy crap. This left me 3rd last overall after the swim and T1.

The cycle went much better. I overtook loads of people, especially at the start, and lost count how many I went past in total, and got to the end without being overtaken myself. Granted, the really fast cyclists would have also been much faster in the pool and thus in a much later heat, but still… So after the cycle, I’d made up 16 places. T2 wasn’t quite so bad, although I still took almost 2 minutes, and from looking at other people, it seems I could have knocked off at least 30 seconds here quite easily.

The run… didn’t go so well. Turns out it was a cross country run, and my ankles don’t cope with such territory at all well and thus it took me far longer than I thought it was going to take. I still made up a half dozen places, but it was disappointing.

So plenty of lessons to learn from it:

  1. Get a trisuit. That will save vast time in transitions, and also make me look less pathetic when going to the start line
  2. Get quicker during transitions in general. This merely means being more organised. I was in total chaos and time flew by.
  3. Keep up the running training. I started far too late, concentrating mainly on swimming with some biking. My run was terrible.
  4. Get better at swimming. Work in progress.
  5. Get better at cycling too! I need to start doing shorter faster cycles. My cycle averaged 16.1mph, so I really need to get that higher

Sky breaks Never Miss feature on their web site

I like Sky’s “Never Miss” utility, as it allows me to make a note on their site of a film I’d like to see which isn’t on Sky right now. However, they have currently broken it. It usually works easily; get an email telling you a film is on in a week’s time, click link from their email to go to their site, click various “Record” buttons, and hey presto – job done. But when you click on the 2nd Record button, nothing happens. Or at least, nothing appears to happen. Actually, what is happening is a web request is sent off silently, but it fails… silently. So you think the link is broken, or goes nowhere. It pretty much does go nowhere, let’s be honest, because the connection is reset by the web host at the other end – but if the site at least told you that, it wouldn’t be quite so bad!

C’mon Sky, fix it please!

Shimano Tiagra Groupset is Installed

Back in January, I did a trial run to install my new Shimano Tiagra groupset on to a frame that I’d bought off Gumtree. The exercise was thoroughly worthwhile because I learnt a lot about how a bike is put together, and there’s no better thing than taking apart a bike that you don’t actually need to use – taking apart the one you use on a daily basis puts a lot of pressure on to get it all working again! It wasn’t perfect, though, mainly due to the frame forks being too wide and the cassette not fitting in the forks well such that I couldn’t put the bike in the smallest cog on the cassette. But still, a good practice.

Well, I’m on holiday this week and it was the time to put the groupset on my commuter – the bike I use on a daily basis. I deliberately did it at the start of this week to give me time to fix things as and when they went wrong. But surprisingly, the main things that went wrong were more to do with taking the old kit off the bike, rather than attaching the new kit on it. It’s all on, and a 23 mile test ride this afternoon suggests that there’s no major issues with it so far. I’ve gone from 8 gears up to 20 – win!

I have learnt a lot from the exercise, so if you’re considering upgrading your bike, here’s some important lessons to consider:

Get the right tools
I don’t think I would ever have believed someone if they told me the amount of different tools you need to maintain a bike. There’s a lot more to it than just some allen keys (which are important!). A socket wrench, torque wrench, rubber mallet, bottom bracket tool (x2), cassette removal tool, cable cutter, adjustable spanner, phillips and flat-head screwdrivers… there’s bound to be more, but those are the key ones. Make sure you have and understand all the tools that you need for all the jobs, because there’s nothing worse than getting half way through the job to discover that one all-important tool is missing.
Cables, inner and outer
Rather than buying cable sets, I just bought a bunch of inner cables and a bunch of outer cables. This makes for a lot less waste, or at the very least a lot tidier box of kit. Buying them individually appears to be much cheaper! And OMG, but replacing cables makes such a difference. Also, the cables are different for gears and brakes – that’s both the inners and outers. So make sure you get some of both. And cable end caps. And ferrules…
Too long an outer can cause a problem
I had a bit of outer just in front of my rear brake caliper which was around 3mm too long and caused my brake to not release properly. I shit you not. 3mm made all the difference; it was basically forcing the inner through too much of a bend, and knocking 3mm off the outer made the bend straight enough to not cause a problem, but still bendy enough to allow the barrel adjuster to work.
Cassettes are a bastard to remove
I could not get the old cassette off the wheel. Spent an hour trying to do it, pulled a muscle in my back trying to force the fucker to budge, but I couldn’t get it to move. Took it to the bike shop, the guy did it instantly. In fairness, his spanner handle was really long, so he was able to get a lot more leverage, so maybe I need to get a bigger one (oo-er). When I put the new cassette on, I didn’t put it on tightly. Indeed, it’s on quite softly, tbh. Hopefully it won’t fall off.
Cables can get jammed in barrel adjusters
I had some serious issues with cables jammed in barrel adjusters. One of the barrel adjusters in my brake calipers is a write-off (no biggie) as I ended up having to cut the cable as it just wouldn’t come out. Therefore, consider that you might have more trouble getting the kit off your bike rather than putting the new kit on it.
Front mechs have braze-on and clip-on
These phrases meant nothing to me initially, but it’s pretty simple; clip-on front mechs quite simply have a round band which goes around your seat tube and is held in place with nothing more than tightening the band. This initially surprised me – I thought it must surely have been held in place with some kind of screw through the seat tube, but no, nothing more than tightening the clip. Measuring the size of your seat tube is potentially the first time in your life that π (pi; 3.14159…) comes in useful. Braze-on, on the other hand, require your bike seat-tube to have a specific thing on to which you attach a braze-on mech. Therefore, the braze-on is the same as a clip-on, just without the round “clip” (round band). If you’re completely unsure, you could always get a braze-on and get a separate band on its own on to which you can attach the braze-on front mech – but if you just have a good look at it, you should be able to tell whether yours has a band round your seat-tube or not.
Triples are pointless
I knew this already – having a triple crankset is a waste of time. I think mine was 52/42/32, and aside from comedy value when I first got the bike, I never used the 32 (aka granny) ring. The smallest gear I ever used was therefore a 42/25 (since my cassette was a 12/25). This never caused me a problem. However, today I went in my new smallest gear of 39/30 and holy crap, it’s small! Only needed for the steepest of hills, and even then, very rarely. If you really do need low gears rather than high gears, get a compact 50/34. I’m running 53/39 on both my commuter and my Cervélo, with 12/30 on the commuter and 11/28 on the é. Loving it.
Bike stands are a must
SSIA. If you don’t have one, you really should, they are a life saver.

Office 365 is broken: Sorry, there’s something wrong with your account

I have Office 365 which has been ace for the past few months. Alas, it’s stopped working on my Win7 laptop for no apparent reason, and when I attempt to log in to and see what’s up, I get “Sorry, there’s something wrong with your account”. Unhelpfully, although it says “We need your help to fix the problem. Click Contact Support to get help”, and suggests I click the “Contact Support” button, it takes me to the front page of their Support Centre, with no indication of WTF I am now supposed to do to gain said help.

So I contact Microsoft through their web site and they are totally stumped. They first say they can see nothing wrong with my account, but later admit they have many other cases of this, and they have to escalate it to get it fixed, which can apparently take days. So I’m without Excel on my Win7 laptop for a while, then… :(

[ Updated 16-Apr-14 ]

Credit where credit is due, Microsoft duly fixed the problem 2 days later. At least, they have fixed the problem with my online account – I still have to reinstall it on the Win7 laptop to see if that resolves that problem, but I didn’t ask them to fix that (yet).