Reinventing the Ice Cube Tray – The Luxury of Cold Drinks !!!

Quite a long time ago I bought a couple of those Camelbak insulated bottles.  I was not too impressed to be honest.  I’ve not tried them with winter hot drinks, but with cold drinks the ice cubes have probably melted within an hour.  So I usually say that they keep the drink “a bit cooler, a bit longer”.

Now I’ve had a huge rethink based upon something quite unexpected.  Don’t you find that ice cube trays have been pretty much the same for decades? You know – a tray… a tray with big compartments that are awkward to fill, that you have to run under the tap to get out – with a thump and a squeeze…. then you get a couple of ice cubes big enough to sink the Titanic. And then there’s the debate of whether to refill it this time or not… and if you do , does it spill any in the freezer!!  But you just do it don’t you?  That’s the way ice cubes work!!

Until now……

Just recently I bought one of those little under the counter freezers from Liebherr.  By the way, did you know that all of Miele’s fridges and freezers and manufactured by Liebherr?? Anyway, like all new freezers, it had the obligatory free ice cube tray included in the purchase.

Blimey – look at this – it’s like something from NASA.

 

 

 

 

 

Now let me introduce you to this. For a start, it has a clip-on lid on it.

When you fill most ice cube trays, they are flat when you fill them…. this one, you stand on edge to fill it.

You can see the lid quite well in this photo above, and you put the lid on BEFORE you fill it!!  In this photo, you can see the water level at about two and a half cubes upon from the bottom. There is a “fill line” right there – difficult to see in the photo.  So no more guessing how much water to use – just up to the fill line.

How do you get the water in??

 

like this. Along one narrow edge (“the top”) there is a hole in the side of the tray.  No lid needed, as it traps just the right amount of water inside.

… the water enters the tray through that hole you can see in the centre…  you fill it to the level you see in the first photo.  Then tip the tray flat and the water travels through those little channels you can see above – filling the ice cube moulds to exactly the right level.

…the photo above is the ice cube tray full and sealed – ready to pop in the freezer with no spills.

Then when it’s time to go for a ride, you take the tray out of the freezer and release the side clips. Because the moulds are very tapered they just easily plop out into the lid – you release the clips and there’s the ice ready for your bottle.

  1. ….So pretty neat but why is it good for cycling??
  • the ice cubes are a tad smaller than I’m used to, so fit down the neck of the water bottle with ease
  • the whole tray of ice is around 2/3rds of a cycling water bottle (probably 500ml in a 650ml bottle
  • you just put the lot in
  • make a completely fresh tray

 

So  I put one tablespoon, not three, of SiS Go drinks powder in the bottom of the bottle first and add about a quarter a bottle of water. Then chuck all the ice in.

Simpleton that I am I should have worked out that if my drinks were not cold enough, long enough, I just had to put more ice in.  I still had a bit of ice left after a three hour ride in 21 degrees yesterday.  Glorious!!

 

Mid Sickness (!) Roll to West Malling!! Plus the wonders of Garmin and RideWithGPS!!

 

Had a lovely ride today down to the Malling.  Feeling rough, so definitely not trying to find the edges of strength or stamina.  Also right knee  could only take half load put on it.  Grrrr…

Stopped several times for photos – sadly the ducks were not in the deckhouse at Underriver !!

The other big reason for stopping a lot was the Garmin.  The sportive in Cardiff has been delayed so I thought I’d safely try a few new things on the Garmin.  First one is that I have got the Garmin-SRAM integration going (see photo below).

At first, I thought this was a gimmick, but actually it’s rather useful.  The neat thing is the little diagram of the front and back derailleurs. You always know where you are with the gear strategy.  I also quite like the real-time calculation of the gear ratio which I’m finding increasingly useful. Then there are the two battery meters, which really should be useful, but as there are four batteries I’ll have to find out what it really refers to !!

The downside is that the magic picture of the gears cannot be integrated into your main Garmin “Screen 1” dashboard – I don’t think.  So you get this new second dashboard as per the photo as I was inclined to keep flicking between screens (won’t work in the winter with gloves on, will it?!!)

However, what I have discovered since the ride is that you can add fields to the gears dashboard which is very nearly the same thing.  I’ll try this out and if it works, photograph it for the next blog.  Basically to the screen you see, I have added cadence, HR, speed, time, distance, altitude etc.  I’ve moved the battery indicators off to a second screen.

The Cardiff Sportive on June 15th has been postponed three months as the Aston Martin factory is causing critical roads to be full of road works.  Until now I have really been using the route planer on Garmin Connect because (1) it’s free (2) it downloads directly to the garmin and (3) well, it’s by Garmin so it must be good.  I also thought that most oil the functionality you get when riding is all about the device – how wrong I was on that!!!  It’s half the device and half the mapping system – and not all the mappers are the same by any means!!   I had various problems though like turn-by-turn instructions not always working, and generally the route planner is slow to use.  You the need it to be consistent or you stop trusting it.

Anyway, when plotting the Cardiff route I became convinced that turn-by-turn has stopped working.  So out of frustration I plotted it all again on the system preferred by my Club – “Ride with GPS”.

To see Ride With GPS:-

click here

First off, it’s designed for cyclists, not also for runners, crawlers, walkers and swimmers too (like garmin connect).  I must admit that plotting the route on ridewithgps was easier, much quicker and generally a much better experience than with garmin connect.  When I tried to send the completed route to the garmin, it said you had to pay $50 a year fee to get the version which added turn by turn instructions into the route.  I really growled and baulked in my frustration at $50 a year – but in a mad uncharacteristic spending moment decided to pay the fee!!  Well, there may now be no going back !!

The “send to device” in ride with gps is a bit of a cheek, as basically it sends the route to your downloads folder and from there you have to manually move it to the garmin – that’s easy though.  Plus it strongly recommends you send it as a TCX file not a GPX file, and that you tick the “turn by turn” option. If you haven’t paid, you can’t tick it!!

Anyway – I just closed  my eyes, paid the $50 annual fee, and did that…..

So now I know, not all mappers are the same – near the start of all my best routes is a Y junction where the main road goes off to the right, and the desired route is the “left fork” ….which actually looks like “straight ahead” on the map.  Garmin has never given a “turn by turn” instruction for this junction – much to my annoyance. This morning…. BEEP…. turn left at the Y junction ahead.  Interesting!!

Next thing I’d swear is that you get more, and clearer “turn by turn” events from ridewithGPS.  A big HIT in unknown lands like Cardiff and the Vale. A huge plus point actually. Plus like the car, it often works out the next two turns ahead… so you get some advanced warning.  Then two things I had NEVER seen from Garmin connect’s route planner – you get a screen with a route list of navigation prompts for about the next five turns. Fabulous!!

PLUS – and I have no photo for this, but after you have executed the turn (or I think after a straight road changes its name) you get a sort of black ticker tape across the bottom of the garmin conforming the name of the road you just took.  When is that useful?? When you are leader on a Club ride, that’s when!!!  Great – it only stays on the screen ten seconds (hence no photo!) then it disappears from your dashboard.  Super.

So $50 is less than a dollar a week. In the Queen’s money that’s about 80pence at the moment – lets call it 11 pence a day….  OK I’m in for a year’s worth, but suddenly not all mappers are the same, and perhaps it is worth it to get the best out of the massively expensive garmin device!!

It tried hard to rain when I mounted up, but actually the weather was fine in the end.  It’s the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings today so I passed a couple of touching little ceremonies on the ride and a spitfire flew overhead at one point.  The area that I ride through contains some of the great airfields of the Battle of Britain – notably West Malling today.

This road I thought was named after an insect … but I realise now that it was famous bomber!!

 

This needs no explanation !!

And if your read the Douglas Bader Books when you were in school, this name will be a hero to you…. Peter Townsend.  If your a TV Box-set buff, you might recognise the name for other reasons!!

 

I’ve also taken a few more photos to add here

(Bitchet Green is vertically down!!)

 

A beautiful Oast near Offham.

 

An Expensive Ride to See the Bluebells – just 15 miles to The Snail at Stone Street !!

This was a lovely little run – bluebells all over this Kent route now – so pretty!!  Are they a bit early this year – I thought May was “the month”?  The skies were pretty clear and from near the Riverhill reservoir, I could see for miles.

Anyway – just wanted to try a quick blast to The Snail at Stone Street.  It’s only 15 miles but Garmin gave 13.7mph which I was secretly pleased about.  146 watts is another interesting number – it’s not exactly a flat ride either !

Maybe in another week or two I’ll feel happy about trying rejoining my Meridian Cycling Club Group.  My plan to do recovery rides on  alternate days has immediately got skewered though – in London the next two days, and missed today in favour of walking.

The expensive bit of the ride was that my Garmin has sheared off its mount – again.  Back to the repair centre it goes. It’s the second one I’ve had go that way and I’m suddenly wondering if it is the SRAM mount that is the cause of it – as two different Garmin models just did the same thing….  So I’m going to switch to K-Edge mounts (most of the pro peloton use them) and see how I get on.  Pretty cross about this, but I’ve never heard anyone else complain so it might be me and my mounts!!  The K-edge weighs 20gms more though – grrrr. This poor Garmin is less than a year old!

 

Irregular Flashes of Light are Safer – and The White Rose Classic !!

Have you seen these lights??

They were recommended to me by my friend, Will.    I’ve used them since my crash in 2013.  They weigh less than 50gms each and the batteries last on rides longer than I do.  They have a few flashing modes, front and back. What I have read is that drivers don’t especially find flashing lights any more noticable than lights shining constantly.  What DOES stand out is lights with an irregular strobing flash.  These lights have that flash, a sort of double burst of light every now and again.  Last time I looked around, not many do.  Oddly enough, battery life seems best on the irregular strobe setting!

Anyway, Will told me yesterday that he is off to Yorkshire tomorrow (Thursday), to Ilkley,  to do the White Rose Classic, which is happening this weekend.  I was delighted to hear that – my love of Yorkshire took me to do the White Rose Classic twice – on the 50 mile option that is!!    Well, it was three times if you count the practice attempt!!  And then there was the outing to ride the extension from Grassington to Settle that makes the 50 mile option (the short one) into the 80 mile option (the medium distance choice).

I’ve decribed all the worse hills to Will…. like the first one from the top of the valley out of Grassington that sort of goes up to Pen-y-Gent at 45 degrees.  And then there’s that mad one as you come out of Settle.  It’s sort of vertical…I was slipping on cleats unable to walk as it was so steep, and then a skinny seventeen year old shot by.  And waved….

It’s gorgeous up there, but get this… Will has signed up for the long option…120 miles or so… starting at 6.30am !!   Although I described the hills on the 80 mile option,  he didn’t seem that concerned!!!

I’ll have to check in with Will next week.

 

50 Miles in The Land of a Thousand Oasts …!!

Well, probably 48 miles !!  Rounding up !!

Today, my Meridian Club Mates were off on a 60 miler to West Hoathly – crikey, that is actually 2 counties away !!  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I had that much gas in the tank (correctly) and when I looked at it on ridewithgps it looked pretty hilly.  Plus they started at 0930 for 1000 and actually, I wasn’t exactly up and ready.  Been severely short of sleep for quite a few nights.

So I decided to abandon my buddies and go the other way on my own – and re-run the very first Club ride I did to the pub at Stilebridge, someway south of Maidstone  – exactly one year ago this week it was.  Gorgeous it was too, but on the way back, exceptionally windy – that was the only unpleasant part. The sun and warmth was great.  the last 10% was a bit of a challenge – I had to carefully conserve the energy supply.  By the way, took  naproxen, cocodamol, one energy bar, one caffeine gel, and had an energy drink aboard. Only just made it around …. could have done more if wasn’t so damned windy.  Quite good speeds though – much of the outward leg was at 15mph average. I could tell this because the new Garmin counts five miles as a “lap” and suddenly gives you all the data for it. So if the timer says 20 minutes or less, you are running at 15mph and upwards.

This route shows Kent at its best.  Famous for fruit growing and things, huge evidence lies in the number of oast houses on the route.  Staggering views from the hill-tops too.

Local residents of this county complain about potholes in the roads and the Councils always have some namby pamby excuse about more miles of tarmac to look after per capita than anywhere else in the UK.  Now the other side of that fact uncovers the simply huge network of quiet lanes we have in the County – and this route made the most of that. Fabulous.  The first time I rode it with the Club, they used two exceptional footpaths, but as neither are bridleways (I don’t think)  I decided to stick to the roads.  It was still good. From Otford, with its huge historical backdrop, along the pilgrims way to the ancient village of Wrotham then turn south and getting to West Malling.  Then taking really narrow lanes out to Barming and crossing the river Medway at the Kettle Bridge – an ancient structure not intended for motor vehicles !!  There are Morris Dancers based there. click here

(view from the Kettle Bridge at Barming)

Then the climbing starts immediately after the Kettle Bridge and wending the way via Gallants Hill over to Stile Bridge.

The pub has a lovely garden and I had a great and friendly stop there.  There was even an oast house in the back garden. Great Soup.

(interesting dogs on the oast vents)

The return leg was via Laddingford, and Hadlow – then up the Plaxtol Climb to get up into Sevenoaks.  The word “Plaxtol” must be from the Saxon meaning “strike fear into the hearts of all cyclists”….

(The last bit of the ride back, climbing back up the escarpment on which Sevenoaks sits, was a killer….  you can see why we all love climbing back through Plaxtol !! )

The Garmin satnav behaved flawlessly, even when I went off course – twice by design and once as a mistake.  These things are a bit like buying an iPhone. You just buy them to do a couple of basic things then find they can do a thousand things – and you have to figure out which ones you want.  I had at least two experiments this morning – one called “Auto Pause” which switches off the timers at red traffic lights, lunch stops etc.  I set the shut off trigger at 0.5mph initially, but it kept switching on and off – so I turned it up to 1mph and it seemed OK with that.  Oh – text messages on the phone appear on the satnav – yes, that was good.  I’ll leave that “on”.  Then the really troublesome one was “emergency  alert”.  If you crash off, the garmin automatically alerts your nominated person.  Great idea – but it’s ever so sensitive.  Like when you are panting at the top of a climb and suddenly pull up for a drink and a pant…. The damned Garmin immediately says, “emergency detected” (true in a way) and counts down 30 seconds before it alerts friends, family, and the air ambulance.  The first time it happens you get acutely aware that you only have 30 seconds to disable the thing.  Well, I’ve turned that off now…..  I might try “Live Track” next where I think your Dad can follow your progress on his computer.  Allegedly.

I’ve asked Garmin to repair the old GPS unit but they are strangely slow in following up – they are supposed to demand money first but they’ve gone silent.

The New Garmin – Some First Impressions….!!

Well, you see from the photo that pretty much the first thing to strike you in four years of technology enhancement is that the screen size has gone up a bit – but it makes quite a lot of difference.  You don’t realise till you try it.  The screen is crisp and clear too.

I had to turn the brightness up a bit (I might turn it down next!) and as a result a three hour run used 25% of the battery.  It’s meant to do better than that, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

Weight – well, you can see from the photo that the weight is up 25gms or so.  That does make me cross (!), but I think I’m OK to overlook that for what I get in exchange – for a start this new screen can hold a lot more on the dashboard all the time.  I’ve gone from five fields to seven fields.  You can do more – well you can also have a second data screen with up to ten fields on it, so I’ve added that and loaded in data fields that you might look at once in a blue moon….

Mounts – you could get bothered by this….  But my old Garmin “out front” bar mount would not take the new Garmin!!  Just a millimetre too short or something like that.  So it comes with a new mount – but that looks good for only mountain bike size handlebars to me.  Now the good news is that I mainly use SRAM “out front” mounts which take both the old and new Garmin.  Plus, take a look at the weight !!  Basically I get my 25gms back again….. Plus a SRAM mount from Amazon is only £12 or something like that.

New Shoes Save Weight….!! …. A Quick Ride Through the Forest

Whenever I buy new kit, if I act impulsively it often backfires on me. And so it was about two years ago when I snapped a buckle faster on my Northwave road shoes.

I popped into the local bike shop and got talked into a reduced price pair of Bontager road shoes at £45 – I’ve never been happy with them.  So I’ve been building up to sorting that out and settled on some Shimano RP9 shoes.  Now they retail for a heck of a lot (£219) so I was humming and hah’ing…. the next cheapest model was £169 etc etc.  Then I saw the RP9s on Wiggle at £165 so ordered straight away…. fifty quid off!!

Sizing of bike shoes is really tricky – and Shimano famously need you to go “up a size” so being a size 47 I ordered 48 (largest size I could find, actually).  They just about fit so I think we’ll be OK.  My Shimano Winter Boots are 48s too.

I wrote a while ago on the subject of weight – pedals, cleats and shoes.  Read that article by clicking here. They are part of the bike really and it’s interesting (i) how much weight there is (ii) how little focus we all have on it.

To my amazement, I just saved 300gms !!!!!  How much would you spend to save that in a frame, or wheels.  Plus, I guess it is rotational mass which when accelerating you multiply the effect by three – or something like that to do with gyroscopic forces. Or was it centripetal force? I forget.

The new shoes weigh 275gms each, so 550gms the pair. The old Bontrager shoes weigh 850gms.

Getting the cleats transferred was a bit tricky (I have wedges) and they sit pretty much at the end of the adjustment range in some ways.  Anyway – they feel fine, and I have transferred my higher profile Giro insoles too.

So went out in the forest behind Knole to do my baby route – just 7 miles. Also this was the first day in three months on the bike without painkillers and anti-inflammatories…. wasn’t totally comfortable actually in terms of pain, but the ride stats seem quite quick. Interesting….

I have a timed piece of the route – just deleting the traffic jams at the start and end.  I call it “Sprint” on Strava – but that came out as my second quickest ever – 14.9mph.  It’s not far in terms of miles, but I’m still pleased, and I didn’t feel I was pushing it.