Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Flame's Half-Hundredweight Half-Century

My hardest trip yet - riding a 25kg (55lbs) 3-speed Pashley Mailstat in the Chilterns,
The first climb is up Aston Hill, through Wendonver Woods, the second is Whiteleaf Hill,
near Princes Risborough, and the third is the climb up from the A413 towards The Lee.

I bring you my ride report from my 60.37 (37.5 miles) km ride two days ago.
I was on Flame, "my" 25kg (55 lbs) 3-speed IGH Pashley Mailstar - although with the pannier of kit, Flame must have been at 60+ lbs again.
The worst hill was the second Whiteleaf Hill, near Princes Risborough, which pushed Flame to the technical limit - I had to stand on the pedals, AND push down on them by pulling up strongly on the bars at the same time.
But then again, Flame has a lowest gear in the low 40's,
But the ride wasn't about speed (it took me 4 hrs 20 mins, including "breathers" and photo stops), it was about building up my endurance.
As I train more, I don't get faster - the hills just get steeper!
Its a tough climb up Whiteleaf Hill on a Pashley Mailstar!
Here I am taking a rest at the top!
At the bottom of the hill near Halton that leads up to St Leonards ...
At the top of the first climb, feeling good :-)
About to join the Chilterns Cycleway (and cycle Route 30) in the Chilterns

Oh dear, another steep hill, but luckily this is one I am going down :-)

Taking a break on the way up Whiteleaf Hill - I took five breaks on this, the toughest hill of the ride.
But, in stages, I cycled up :-)

Me looking a bit hot and ragged as I take a break riding up the third climb,
the hill that runs up to the Lee. The weight of the Pashley Mailstar,
and only having three gears, takes its toll after a time.
I've written about the first climb, up through Wendover Woods before, with its 13% marked gradient, but the tough climb of this trip was the climb up Whiteleaf Hill, near Princes Risborough - I had to take 5 rest stops on the way up (compared with just one going up the hill through Wendover Woods
MapMyRide has previously counted the first hill as a longer, shallower, climb (and made it a Cat 3), but this time has cut out the gentle slope at the start to leave it 13 metres short of that ranking.
Never mind.
Enjoying the scenery in The Chilterns on a Pashley Mailstar
And, yet again, a 60km ride on a 55lb (empty) bike gets me in the top 10% for ride distance.
There are clearly a lot of much more fancy bikes that only ever go short distances!


  1. Good Effort. Unless you are in a race a heavy bike is not a disadvantage. You get more exercise for a shorter distance, and with 90% of the UK's population probably needing more exercise . . . I rest my case. I like that bike, stick a hub dynamo on it and it would be ideal. Ever had a puncture in those marathons? I doubt it right?

    1. Right about the Marathon Plus's.
      Being a "commercial" bike, Flame's tyre choice is about lower overall costs, and if you are paying someone to fix punctures ...
      I would personally set the gearing a bit lower - I like about 40/55/70 gear inches, and with a decent load, I would want that bit lower. Flame runs about 10% above that, which means you go a bit faster on the flat, but the 10% climbs really take it out of you, and about a 15% climb seems to be the technical limit for the gearing.
      If Flame was mine (rather than just on loan to me for a couple of months), I'd change to longer cranks (I have long legs, enjoy a "relaxed" cadence, and the BB has plenty of clearance!) first, and see if that helps, else I'd be changed for a slightly bigger rear sprocket, or a slightly smaller front one.
      I agree about the hub dynamo - I ran one on my little Cinzia folding bike, and they are just so handy.