Brooks England: Cambium C15 Carved, Slate

The Cambium C15 Carved shares the same narrower shape as the existing Cambium C15, but with an ergonomic cut-out to provide relief from discomfort in the perineal area, experienced by some cyclists.
This “registered cutting, a sure preventive to all perenial pressure” is also to be found in the saddles of the Brooks Imperial line.
Made from vulcanised natural rubber and organic cotton top, combined with a die-cast aluminium structure and tubular steel rails. For performance, a distinct dampening effect is delivered by the classic Brooks “hammock” construction keeping the rider in unparalleled comfort mile after mile.

thank God it’s (melting) Friday

The week is almost over and I can’t say bike commuting has been a blast the last couple of days. Like many other cyclists in Stockholm I was looking forward to seeing prioritized winter maintenance in action and riding clean bicycle routes but, once again, the City of Stockholm (or whoever is responsible for the maintenance) has failed to fulfill their promises. Miserably.

I consider myself a decent rider and still cycled my daughter to preschool every morning but not everybody feels comfortable riding on black ice with 480 studs. Alice’s 10 minute bicycle ride (2.5 kilometers) has become a 45 minute bus + subway ride for many other kids and that is NOT OK.

But life is too short to spend hoping that, someday, winter (or not) bike commuting will be taken seriously by the Capital of Scandinavia. I won’t let any sort of frustration affect my plans for the first warmish ride of 2015 on the bike with the skinny tires.

Kona, Jake The Snake 2014

I know the Jake The Snake is not a true road bicycle according to the Book of Fred but trust me it works perfectly fine on asphalt too. In 2014, most of the road pedaling I did was on the Paddy Wagon (around 4,500 kilometers bike commuting) but I also managed around 1,000 kilometers on the Jake The Snake.

Brooks saddle, Cambium, slate

I just hope I can ride that green horse more in 2015 and I’m definitely looking forward to fixing a shorten stem and switching to a nice Cambium slate saddle from Brooks England (that’s the big plans I have so far). It won’t make me a faster and more committed road cyclist but it will make the bike look even better. For sure.

And while I day and night dream about that first ride I believe the ice is slowly melting away. Although it’s 6°C and government agencies have nothing to do with that.

Happy cycling new year. Ride safe.

Tour de Saltsjöbaden

Second week as a semi-professional bicycle blogger and the motivation is obviously still quite high. This Monday was packed with bicycle cycling starting with a Tour de Saltsjöbaden (43 kilometers) on the semi-plastic bike followed by a couple of kilometers on the single speed to meet a friend for lunch and then a gentle digestive ride back home.

Tour de Saltsjöbaden

Not being Swedish and riding a bicycle the day after the general elections was not the safest thing to do according to all that drama I was reading online for breakfast (Sweden Democrats – far-right, right-wing populist & anti-immigration – became Sweden’s third largest political party and right-wing-car-centric politics are still doing strong) but I decided to hit the road anyway. And you know what happened? I was able to stay in the saddle all the way: no one tried to put me on a Paris-bound charter flight neither was I ran over by a campaigner from the Moderate Party in a SUV with tinted windows.

Solsidan, election results, 2014

I must admit that the best riding on le Tour de Saltsjöbaden (which, for me, starts from Årstafältet) is around Solsidan where voters (as the chart shows) massively support the motorized-traffic-loving party. I had the road for myself most of the time and stopped a couple of times by the shore to take pictures or enjoy the view. It’s sort of surprising but actually makes perfect sense: people living around Solsidan don’t drive in Solsidan. But they drive to Stockholm – like most of those living in the richer neighbourhoods – and the closer you get to the city center, traffic just worsens, support to the Green Party increases and riding becomes quite unpleasant.

Nothing new under the sun though and life in Stockholm has not dramatically changed overnight. Cycling in and around the city center is still not world-class quality and I bet it will remain so for the next four years. There are some hidden gems not far from the busy roads and you’ll find them if you get on your bike. You could even find a restaurant serving lamb loin and enjoy a beer with lunch. I know I did.

orange mécanique

Two days ago, something rather disturbing happened to me: in the span of an hour and fourteen minutes I wore Lycra, I rode a bicycle with lots of gears, a curved handlebar and a carbon fork and, to my own surprise, I liked it.

Despite the relative lack of sleep (a couple of hours) and training (none at all, remember the three week old daughter?) I met with two of my colleagues (Joel & Jukka) last Sunday morning for an Olympic relay (triathlon) here in Stockholm, Sweden. For those of you who are not too familiar with the sport (as I was until two days ago and still am), a triathlon is a multiple-stage competition with hundreds of women and men wearing spandex while they swim, cycle and run: a giant flash mob of people in tights sort of.

Anyhow, I was part of a wonderful team of amateurs on their first triathlon ever and my duty obviously was the 40 kilometres bicycle ride. I might commute by bike to work every day all year round and have some fun in the woods or in the bike park with the mountain bike I, on the other hand, don’t do road cycling and the fact is I don’t even own a road bike. But I have friends (yes I do), great friends, one of them being the owner and dictator at Fix My Bike in Hammarby Sjöstad. Yoann (that’s his name) trusts me enough to lend me a brand new Kona Jake The Snake for the race and the least I could do for him is put a link to his website (and here’s a second one – Fix My Bike – for the road).

Kona Jake The Snake, carbon fork

So I’ve been riding a Kona Jake The Snake, a cyclocross bicycle I know, on that race and, as a first road experience on a first proper sort-of-road-bike, it was a HUGE change from the Kona Coilair (really?) or the Kona Paddy Wagon (really?) I otherwise ride. Rolling at 50+ kilometres an hour with only the sounds of tires against asphalt and air in the spokes was just pure happiness.

I bought a pair of Crank Brothers Eggbeater 2 for the occasion and was very pleased with the pedals. I already have Mallet 3 on the Coilair and Candy 1 (that I’ll replace with the Eggbeater) on the Paddy Wagon so it was quite a natural addition to the bike.

Crank Brothers, Eggbeater 2 on Kona Jake The Snake

One hour and fourteen minutes then. That’s my modest performance on the 40 kilometres ride but I’m still quite satisfied considering the preparation with an average speed of just over 32 kilometres an hour. The team completed the race in 2 hours and 47 minutes and I guess we’ll just have to try and do better next year. Well done boys.

Note. The Snake, Jake (56 centimetres frame) is now for sale at 12,000 SEK (instead of 16,000) and has only been used for the triathlon. Hurry up cause there’s only one left.