Category Archives: Bikes

Oakley M Frame sunglasses – The review

I bought my Oakley M-Frames in 2002 – my first set of big-boy cycling glasses. Let me say upfront that this is a purchase that I have never for a moment regretted. They were expensive but they did the job brilliantly and with style.

But after about 15,000 km on the road they finally failed. The abrasion of lots of tiny dust particles over the years made the mirror finish a bit porous and hard to polish. More importantly the lenses has lost a bit of their coating at the edges and no longer provided a friction fit with the frames. After they fell out on a bumpy road I decided it was time for action. (BTW, this paragraph is a classic example of a #firstworldproblem!)

Photo of Oakley M-Frame
Oakley M-Frame

First a bit about Oakley M-Frames. They were one of the top sunglass models at the time. Like all the competitors they offered outstanding clarity and excellent UV protection, but their key feature was that they had no hinges and did not fold. That allowed the carefully calibrated “Unobtanium” frame to stick to the head like glue without any sensation of pressure. And in 15,000 road km (plus a fair number of lumpy off-road trips) they never once even suggested that they might fall off.

Moreover Oakley was the choice of Lance, and Lance was the greatest cyclist of his era. (And he still is, but that’s a subject for another post).

So that’s why I bought the Oakleys. And now faced with replacing them I looked at the options and decided that I had no reason not to stick with such a well-designed product. I was all set to drop £180 on the latest M2 model but the nice folks at the Oakley shop in Covent Garden mentioned that they could replace the lenses of my 13 year-old no-longer-being-made glasses for a much more reasonable price.

Top quality and outstanding customer service – I think when/if these ones wear out I will be making a bee-line back to my Oakley dealer. Highly recommended.

Photo of Oakley sunglasses.
Oakley war-face. It strikes me that I really do look a lot like my brother!


Keywords: Oakley sunglasses, Oakley M Frame

Keep the rubber side down: Things I apparently haven’t learned about cycling

On Cycling Crashes

So it’s now three months since The Incident – i.e. doing an endo on my road bike at about 35 kph. Full disclosure: two km into my first club ride with Sarum Velo I decided to  shift from the brake hoods to the drops to negotiate an upcoming turn, and (it would appear) hit the brake lever in the process. One moment happy, the next moment upside down skidding down the pavement on my soft pink skin. It was, said the following riders, spectacular.

The result of a moment’s inattention was two broken bones, a bunch of road rash and a whole lot of torn muscles. I have broken a fair amount of bones in my day – these were #10 and 11 I believe – mostly as a result of excess enthusiasm (Broom-i-Loo comes to mind) and a broken rib or two is par for the course for cycling crashes.  The fractured acromion was a new one. For those not up on anatomy the acromion is the bit of the scapula that connects to the collarbone at the self-evidently named acromio-clavicular (AC) joint. I was somewhat dismayed when my fortyish orthopedic surgeon stated that he had never seen a broken acromion – one is always more confident when they have seen a million of them! A bit of research showed why. Only 3% of traumatic injuries involve a fracture to the shoulder area, and of these only 3% include a broken acromion. If you break an acromion you are 20% likely to have been killed in the process. So OK, I this was a special one.

The result was eight weeks in a sling, then a gradual process of physio and strengthening. Tom, my Army-supplied therapist, is really good and as a triathlete he totally gets that I want to get back on the bike ASAP. He is doing his best to manage expectations, but sometime this week I am cleared to try a flat ride of 10-15 km.

The prognosis is full recovery, with the bone recovering full strength at the six month point, and full muscle strength (such as it is!) recovered after five months.

The Gios, you will be pleased to hear, has had a much easier road to recovery. The fine folk at Stonehenge Cycles have got her fully back to fighting form and she looks at me every day hoping to be let out of the barn.

Gios Cinquantenairo

So, is there a moral to all of this? Well, I could conclude that riding bikes is for the young and easily healed, but that ain’t happening. In the soft coddled lives that we lead there needs to be some sort of challenge to maintain a connection between the real world and the unreal virtual world where I write emails for a living. Riding a bike fast is glorious, but it wouldn’t have the same value if it didn’t have the element of real risk. To get all Kierkegaardian about it, fear, danger and occasional massive pain seem to be the price to pay to be in the real world, driving the horse cart home instead of falling asleep and letting the horse take the lead. Just the same, I could have gotten the same reality-value out of a near miss, so… perhaps a I will try to be a bit more prudent in future. At least until I’m back at race pace! 🙂

The easily fixable damage:

Cinelli handlebar

Selle Italia SLR saddle

Lazer helmet (though sadly not as perfect a match for my bike colours that the now-dented Bell Alchera on the right)

Cycling crashes - Bike helmets

Internal bits of the shifters (Thanks to Campagnolo for making spare parts available, unlike that other component manufacturer…)

Brake hood covers (ditto)

Shifter cables and bar tape

Bib shorts

Not replaceable:

My favourite jersey

Cycling crashes - Bike Jersey

My faithful 14-year old Cyclomaster 409 computer

Moon X Power 500 Cycling Headlight

Moon X Power 500 Cycling Headlight

The winter days are very short in my current location so I asked the guys at Stonehenge Cycles for a recommendation on lights for night riding. I don’t generally ride more than 90 minutes at night so a hub generator would be overkill, but I do need bright lights for the narrow country lanes around Salisbury. And I’m tired of cheap lights that corrode into uselessness because they aren’t watertight. They recommended the Moon X Power 500. The price was £80 at time of purchase, but this has now dropped to the £60 range.

Moon X Power 500 Cycling Light
Moon headlight and taillight


Continue reading Moon X Power 500 Cycling Headlight

Road cycling – In order to go faster you have to go faster

Cycling and the importance of speed training

Riding long distances at moderate speeds is a good way to build up a base, but if you want to ride fast you have to push yourself. Racers do this in a structured way using tempo and interval training, but if you’re a recreational rider you can just build speed training into your normal rides.

  • A few ideas: If you see a rider ahead of you in the distance, make a hard effort to chase him or her down.
  • On one of your normal cycling routes, find a section of 10 or 15 km that starts after you have had a chance to warm up well. A loop is ideal. Zero out your computer and then ride hard with a target in mind – e.g. maintaining an average speed of 30 kph. Check the computer at the end of the section and note how fast you went. Once you can do this without blowing up adjust your target upwards by 1 kph.
  • Pick a target speed for specific points on your regular routes. No matter how tired I was I always tried to hit 30 kph at the top of the short hill leading past the Woodsman Pub in Fernham.
  • Put in a few sprint efforts during a ride. Telephone poles work well for this. While riding at a normal pace, pick a telephone pole in the distance. When you get to it sprint all out to the next pole, then spin easily for a bit before speeding up to your cruise pace. Repeat as necessary.
  • Best of all, ride with a group where you have to push fairly hard to keep up. (Make sure you can find your way home if you get dropped!)

One last point. Don’t do hard efforts every day. Speed training takes a lot out of you. If you don’t rest sufficiently between hard days you will end up going slower and be grumpy to boot!