Wednesday, 5 October 2016

New Bike - Boardman Team Carbon Review

09/10/2016 - Having owned a Carrera Virtuoso since 2013 it was time for an upgrade. Now don't get me wrong the Carrera has been a brilliant first "proper" road bike. Three years of faultless riding, triathlons, sportives and some long rides where it's never let me down and always performed has given me a lot of respect for the Carrera. If you have a limited budget I think you'd find it hard to find a nicer bike for the money.All that aside I wanted to move to carbon and the Cycle2work scheme meant I had a £1000 to spend so the Carrera was going to be relegated to a winter hack.

Carrera - sweet first ride
So what to buy. Well the £1000 budget was going to limit the field if I was going to go for carbon, and I was because I wanted carbon damn it! I had a few weeks after applying for the vouchers to look for something. The bike I fancied, a Specialised Roubaix, was well outside my budget and there was no way I was going to be given permission by the sensible one in my marriage to spend more than £1000. In the end based on a whole list of things from looks, components, availability and of course price I eventually narrowed it to two bikes. A Boardman Team Carbon or a Focus Cayo Tiagra. After a lot of googling the Boardman was coming out on top in the review stakes and coupled with the very upgrade-able frame and that the price had dropped at Halfords to £799 it was a clear winner.

New Boardman Team Carbon
Decision made, voucher received it was off to Halfords. I ordered the bike, spent the difference (£200) on accessories and left a happy man. Two days later I get the call to pick the bike and accessories up. Best not go into the collection process as it's an hour of my life that I'll not get back unlike the £1000 that was incorrectly charged to my Connect card which I did get back only after it had put my account into the red. Anyway got the bike home, popped off the supplied caged pedals and put on my Shimano SPL's, adjusted the seat height, removed the wheel reflectors, pooped on my new Lezyne lights and gave it a kiss. Sadly the first ride would have to wait as I was off to Birmingham for the weekend.

Eventually it became first ride day, well evening. Kitted out in my new gear (|Boardman jacket, Boradman Helmet, Boradman gloves - went a bit Boardman crazy) I set off. First thing I noticed was the geometry, knees much closer to the handlebars than on the Carrera and I felt taller on the bike. It really suited me being in the drops, which is where I prefer to be so that was good. Second thing I noticed was that it was jumping out of gear. Another Halfords set-up success. So off the bike,a quick visual and the rear deraillier looks miss-aligned so give the adjuster a quarter turn. Better but still not quite there so another quarter turn. That seems much better but a few miles down the road it's obvious it needs a bit more. Another quarter turn seems to have it. After 25 miles it still not perfect. So next day off out again, still not quite right so another 1/4 turn on the adjuster and bang, I've found the sweet spot. Off I ride for another 25 miles of faultless gear changes.

So after 50 miles of cycling what's my feeling on the bike?


The pictures don't do it justice. It looks class in the flesh. I was not sure if I'd like it until I saw it for real and I know looks are subjective but I love it. 


Seems to fit me especially when down in the drops, comfortable from the get go and after a medium distance ride.


Well the Carrera had Sora gearing which to be honest are OK as long as you look after them but the Tiagra's were definitely smoother (once correctly set-up) and very confidence inspiring - I like them.


Very good if a little sharp, I'll change the pads to a softer compound as I feel that will give me more progressive braking. 


Compared to the Carrera, which is in no way a heavy bike, for someone with my limited experience it feels it's as light as a feather. From review and speaking to friends who are much, much more experienced at this sort of thing than me it's a frame that will allow me to upgrade the components when and if I want to.


This is where I really found the biggest difference between the Boardman and the Carrera. The ride was so much more comfortable on the Boardman, the frame softening the bumps in the road and giving a much less jarring ride than the Carrera on poor roads. 

The Boardman's lightness and the gearing making climbs considerably easier and it accelerates much quicker than the Carrera. This showed itself when at the end of the first ride, without trying and the initial gearing issues, I'd stuck 1 mph on my normal average for a gentle ride out. I also pushed it on one climb and one straight as comparisons and in both cases I set PB's that blew my previous PB's for the same sections on the Carrera. 

One thing though is that it is much "twitchier" than the Carrera. Any body movements on the bike translated into a much bigger effect on the bike than the Carrera - I nearly veered off the road and rode into a bush just because I looked down at the chain. I'm over cooking it in the corners at the moment as well as the Boardman steers in so much quicker than the Carrera. I'll get there.


I love it. I bought it as an upgrade to the Carrera and it is. Now for the money the Carrera is a cracking little bike but the Boardman feels like an upgrade in every department. The only other bike I have to compare it with is the Cannondale I rented in France which I rode for 4 days in the Alps. The Boardman is better. I can only see me upgrading it over the years not replacing it and I can't wait to do some serious miles on it and show it off to my mates, most of which really could not give a shit.

I just need a hybrid now, and a cyclocross and and mountain bike and ...............

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Since the Spitfire to another Spitfire

12/08/2016 - After the Spitfire Scramble in August 2015 I avoided any more races and just run and cycled for fun for the rest of the year. So did anything happen between then and now for me? Well there was a  couple of trips and nearly a couple of marathons in the early part of this year.

The year pretty much finished with a trip to Prague for a long weekend. It was my first time there and it's lovely city and being so close to Christmas had Christmas markets littering the city. Was somewhat pissed the whole weekend having made good use of the outside bars. Going back this year for sure.

Then it was a couple of weeks in St Kitts and Nevis, which was very nice, deffo going back there,

Fat lad beaching it (well beached)
Beached again - ribs were amazing here.
Then I needed to lose some weight so started upping the training including a week cycling, and unhelpfully eating brilliant food, in the French Alps where I cycled up Col de joux Plane - one of the toughest climbs on this years TDF (oh yes - I nearly died), another cracking time was had. The Tasty Ski Company did an amazing job - deffo use them again as I'm deffo going back.

Half way up
At the top - beer never tasted so good.
After climbing the mountain on day one I went out cycling for the next couple of days with my wife following on an electric bike .... well except up the hills where she went flying past laughing. She now wants an electric bike. Amazing time and an amazing place.

Ahhh coffee.
Also did the Manchester marathon ...... well nearly. I messed up badly. I decided it was "only a marathon" so had a slice of toast in the morning and decided I could leg it round. So I did. After 15 miles I was 45 minutes ahead of my previous PB. After 19 miles I was walking and wondering if I was going to perhaps die, well shit myself first and die - I just know that's how I'd go out. By mile 23 I was sitting on the pavement waiting for my brother to rescue me. Plonker - me not my brother. Felt gutted seeing everyone with their lovely big medals.

So the following weekend I did the Milton Keynes marathon. Loved it. Just chilled round, chatting, helping people with cramp etc, just enjoying it. Even sprinted the last 1 mile and 1/2 like a nutter as I knew I could not mess it up this late into the race.

Shiny medal
Oh I also went up North to ride round Yorkshire with a good friend and showed what an amazing cyclist I am. More accurately we did 50 miles where he dragged me round the flat bits, killed me going up the hills and terrified me going down. Keep in mind I did an 86 mile ride the week before in Cambridgeshire without breaking sweat I think highlights that Yorkshire miles after much much tougher than Cambridgeshire miles. Still a brilliant ride, next year I hope to be better :).

After the ride the beer in my mates home pub - sooo envious.
Then we get to the Spitfire Scramble 2016. I was hoping to get into the top ten this year, hope over reality entirely but we can but dream. Sadly, due to very good reasons, my support crew could not make it which would proved to be critical deep into the race. So Billy no Mates settled in Friday evening, downed a few beers and a couple of shots of JD and an early night.

Had a lovely sleep and got up, bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast and got ready for the race. One of my mates, Neil, arrived who was also solo'ing the race and after a promised hug (bit grabby but I'll let him off ;) ) we strolled to the start line.

Sexiest Men of the Day award winners
5,4,3,2,1 and we're off..... well myself and Neil are keeping to the back and taking it easy. After lap two I lost Neil and never saw him again in the race. Turns out he was going for the best average lap time which he won easily by only doing two laps - top winning.

Top running sexy dudes
So I started plodding round lap by lap, enjoying every lovely change of scenery from field to woods, only the suns heat an issue. It was really rather warm.

Six Million Dollar Man
As the evening wore on I was well ahead of my schedule and feeling pretty good. Lap 6 (miles 30 to 36) was a little tough due to the heat which had been beating down all day and was wearing - so after the lap I stopped to get a little more food down. So chips it was. After a decent calorie laden meal laced with fruit smoothies I felt much much better, stinky but better. Lap seven was a blast, loved lap 7, lap seven was my mate, I might have been inappropriate with lap 7.

As you'd have guessed lap 8 was a disaster. It was so hard to get round, literally hated lap 8, hated ultra running, in the words of Danny Glover "I'm too old for this shit". Got back to the tent wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. My wife was relaxing in the garden, drinking champagne in the sun, while I was running round in circles in fields. So I sat down and decided I just needed a 1/2 hour sleep to make everything right and so I set my clock and took to the sleeping bag in the tent. Four hours later I awake to realize that I'd hit to alarm and slept on. Oh bollocks - this is why I needed a support / friend with a sharp stick and a wicked temperament. So I decide "sod it" that's enough, bloody stupid idea anyway, and go and get breakfast. 30 minutes later I quite fancy a run and decide to do a recovery run so set off for another lap.

Recovery run
Having done another lap I decided I liked running again so did a tenth lap. Coming in after lap 10 I decided to have a look at the race placings. To my surprise I was in 7th place for the soloists - the heat had obviously hit people badly. So I thought unless I went out again I'd probably lose that placing, so I did. So 11 laps it was, not what I had planned and a disappointment that I only got to 65 miles but chuffed still with my placing - 7th soloist and 13th over all (500+ runners).

So apart from a small "moment" I had a cracking weekend and will deffo try to do better next time.

Oh and please if you can support my current fav charity by clicking the next link and donating via my Justgiving page to the amazing Make a Wish Foundation. Thank you.