The Affair: Episode 1

Part 1: NITP

I've been waiting for this weekend for ages. A day out at the London Bike Show followed by Ali's Leith Hill Octopus challenge. The other half thought I was at a Business Expo and then off out researching wedding stuff. What she doesn't know, won't hurt her!

Dave came and picked me up in his well looked after Golf GTi with the heated seats on, well played! £2 parking at Hounslow East tube station meant it could turn out to be a cheap day. I know how much Dave wanted to know about the site and its plans (he loves stats he does!). Dave had shown me how to use the swipe bank card oyster turnstile thing way of getting on the tube, never used it before and it was quite nifty! Change at Green Park for Jubilee, another change at Canning Town for DLR and we are there. What we didn't realise that the ticket for the bike show also gained us access for the Tri-Show, Diving Show and the Outdoor Adventures Show.

Tooled up with our cameras (the other half's Nikon and Dave's GoPro which he never used and opted to use his phone!), we went hunting for the latest developments in the cycling world. We had both agreed on a Wattbike challenge and it was one of the first lots for us to pass, we both agreed it was too early for this amount of power to be unleashed! The bikes on show would make your bank manager have a heart attack, close down your credit score and bankrupt you. Tapping the deep carbon rims and see how really 'marginal gains' are stretched gives you a real sense of how competitive this market has become.

Obviously there was plenty of samples to test out in the nutrition sector. Ettix was on hand to sign you up for a free bar. I had mentioned that their Cherry flavoured gels were hideous, the girl promoting Ettix agreed! The free bar would come in handy though as I spotted another lot which had a Wattbike challenge. Lee Valley Velo Park had a 160m sprint on offer. Dave knew with the energy bar as a back up, he could hit this battle hard. I had made sure I had done some 30 second power bursts on the commutes home this week so I feared nothing. Counted down, boom! Spun into a high cadence quickly. I didn't look at Dave once, didn't need to. Looking up, 9.51 for 160m put me 6th on the board. Dave clocked a respectable 10.23. Awkwardly, I had to tell the Lee Valley guys they had put the wrong name up, couldn't walk away knowing that there had been a moment of injustice, wheres Batman when you need him?! Equality and all, we both grabbed another freebie, a Lee Valley Velo Park water bottle which will annoy the other half as I look like bidon collector now!

I opted not to open the Ettix bar as I was on a personal challenge to see how much stuff Icould blag/steal/eventually buy from the show. As well as the eye dropping bikes on show (for full photos, see gallery), you had a big emphasis on bike safety and new innovations to tackle the ever growing danger of cycling on British roads. First up, was a plug from the guys at Bike Register. Interesting to know how they mark the bikes and deter thiefs. The hidden fingerprint identification system was a good marker for components if bikes were sold as parts. As local bike marking is done in my local area, I decided to wait for the next bike marking event to be held by the local MPS.

I had attended the Cycle Show at Earls Court a few years ago and at the time, my knowledge in bikes was amateur to say the least. At this show, I felt I had a bit more knowhow and terminology about me that I could hold meaningful discussions with most vendors and sales reps. So when Dave acted like a child with a lorry fetish and jumped at the opportunity to sit in the cab of one of the HGVs to show the blind spots and dangers cyclists sneaking up and weaving in between, I took the opportunity for a great chat with one of the PCSOs of the MPS Cycle Safety Team. It was interesting to find out their powers and limitations in what they do. Frustrating to hear that any mechanical issue with their bikes have to be sent back to their contracted bike manufacturer (can't remember the brand!) instead of being taught how to tune the gears or tighten brakes up themselves. I had raised the suggestion of using electric bikes as the added bonus of acceleration in chasing down dangerous motorists and cyclists would be a massive bonus. But according to the PCSO, if an electric bike can reach over 15mph, it is then classed as a mechanical vehicle which means it needs insurance and all sorts, something the MPS would not invest in. I have had the pleasure (if you are a true pedal pusher and don't believe in the electric motor, neither did I till I tested one at the Cycle Show) of riding an electric bike and as a commuter in London, I would invest in one. It would take out the frustration of stop/starting at lights just to get going again then re-living the whole cycle (excuse the pun!) all over again. I love the bike but as a commuting convenience, an electric bike just makes the commute a little faster and less taxing, just my opinion (bring on the criticism!)

Part 2: Dave

I've been dreading this weekend for ages. A day out with NITP at the London Bike Show. It'll just be him talking about his website, how people are enjoying the routes, plans he has for it, bore off!

Although it was his idea to go from Hounslow East tube station because of the cheap parking there on weekends, suppose I had to offer to pick him up and he will only moan if I don't put the heated seats on (he puts them on in the summer sneakily just to wind me up, I hate that!). Once on the tube, its was views this, analytics that (secretly I was enjoying it as I am a bit of a geek when it comes to IT stuff!). He has never used the contactless payment method he can use with his bank card on the tube, what a loser! I had to show him and his face was like he won the Lotto 5 times in a row!

Quite cool was that one ticket actually meant 4 shows, knew NITP would explode with that revelation too! Walking into the exhibition, the Wattbike lot was one of the first things we had seen. Earlier in the week, he had stoked the hype up on Twitter about how he was going to destroy me (although he had quads like Chris Hoy, I did gymnastics when I was a kid and I can still 'dolphin dive' and walk on carpets on my knees only!). Thankfully, he brought it up that it was too early for the challenge, I gladly agreed and set out to enhance my very talented photography abilities.

NITP was banging on about 'marginal gains' and how the market has become that free?! I was getting hungry as I only had breakfast a few hours ago. I have a high metabolism which means I need to eat every few hours otherwise I start growing lumps on my back which then pop out and turn into mini-Daves who run amok especially if they go near water! Oh s*** he's spotted another Wattbike challenge. Yeah ok, calm down, I'll do it (only because I've got a free bar to recover with after!). You should of seen his little face, he was expecting Chris Hoy to sign him up for the GB track team. To be fair, he's like a tumble dryer at full spin when he's on a bike so when he clocked a 9.51 for the challenge, it was a good measurement of his capability (lets hope he doesn't read this otherwise his huge head will start to affect the moon's gravitational pull!). That Ettix bar helped though, I needed that, started to feel a lump grow on my back which has happened before when I've been hungry, should really see a GP about that...

Ooooooo a lorry! A big lorry! I can get into the cab?!!! Hold my free water bottle NITP, I'm off! Armed now with the video option on the phone, I filmed my experience of being in the cab whilst learning about the dangers from one of the safety team. Shockingly, if a cyclist comes up on the passenger side of the lorry, no mirror picks them up. Only when a cyclist is roughly 5-6f feet away are they then visible to the driver. Really hits home the risk cyclists take when they pass up on the inside of a lorry. Makes you realise your life is sometimes totally in your hands and you can have a big say in the risks you take. Obviously, there will be drivers who won't look or care so I say never take the risk with a large vehicle, just not worth your life for someone else's mistake. One of the most eye-opening demonstrations at the show hands down.

Part 3: NITP

A product which caught my eye which was as simple as you could get was by a company called Springtech. They had created mirror attachments which you can plug into the bottom of your drops to prevent you from turning around to check for traffic and focus what is infront of you. I had questioned how they came up with the design and the lady (who was the daughter of the inventor) told me the story of how her father hit a pothole after checking what was behind him and seriously injuring himself. The mirrors themselves are subtle enough not to be bulky and can be classed as a classic retro look with the angle you can tilt them at.I hadn't noticed but Dave had slipped off to film some hoodies on bikes, I thought it was just another day in London, youths getting a bad name for mugging or breaking their ASBOs but this lot had talent. A mini crowd (due to the time of day) had gathered watch some BMXers pull off some tricks which left you in awe (my words not Dave's!). These tricksters got some serious height using some scaffolding constructed by some cowboy builders, it was rocky! Dave was well into his camera phone, I could hear some crying from somewhere, it had a beep, then a cry, then a 'Wohpro' kinda sound, it was weird but Dave didn't seem too fazed by it.

There was definitely a friendly feel to the event, everyone wanted your opinion and obviously your money but they could tell that you were keen to know and learn which contributed to the chatty atmosphere. Dave and myself was stopped randomly by a couple of guys from 'Much Better Adventures' who wanted our opinions on cycling opinions. After I explained all my income and my left leg is going towards a wedding the other half had said yes to, they weren't looking for a sale but our input which they seemed really keen on. We suggested looking into European countries such as Romania as they are untouched in their cycling culture at the present moment and I am aware (thanks to Top Gear! apologies, yes its a car show, but we all dreamt as a kid!) that their scenery and landscape could become the next cycling hub.We were still on the hunt for freebies and was a little annoyed that the Telegraph bag was not free because you had the buy the paper to get the bag. I was beginning to have blisters with the leaflets, bottles and gels I had collected so I sacrificed £2 for a bag not realising that we could pick up a complimentary bag from one of the entry points. Yes more freebies but it did have some products that we ditched. In the bin went the Pepperami roll (dry as thats too rude for here, contact me for the full rude joke!), coconut and something water (smelt like a bad perfume!) and although I kept my litre, Dave binned his milk. I know it's full of calcium but at a bike show unrefigerated?! Bit weird to say the least!

After a bit of celeb spotting promoting their brands (no names here!) I spotted the SiS stall and they had a Poundland deal on, 5 for £5. I'm sold! I treated myself to what I hopefully will be like a Snickers, 2 x chocolate peanut butter bars, a strawberry gel, a cola gel and a chocolate recovery powder, bargain and I like how there were plenty of flavours to choose from. Another little nutrional outlet I had come across was Honey Stinger. The flavours were terrific, no science feel to them, the lemon waffle was lush and so was their little penny like sweets. I've kept their discount leaflet and will add to my nutrition tub at home very soon.We had finished the bike show and was transitioning into the other shows designated areas. Overall, the bikes were bank busting, dream bikes, would truly love a souped up fully carbon deep rims dura ace 5000 (I know its not a model!) beast of a bike but I commute daily with a longer ride at the weekend on my trusted Specialized Tarmac which is still holding its own, how could I justify a few grand on a bike at this stage of my life? I couldn't but one day, I will have my 'Porsche'...

Before leaving though, I was sold by a very convincing vendor on a massager called the Casada TappyMed II. The name itself could be a bit more sale-friendly but this piece of hardware does the job and some. I suffer from lower back pain from time to time and have had physiotherapy sessions in the past which included deep tissue massages. This thing did this but with different head attachments pinpointed different areas in the muscle depending on where you wanted it to target. Now I did check this at home, the RRP was £140, he sold it to me for £70 so another bargain in the bag. Even Dave was impressed but he was muttering something about 'whopper, large fries and a large coke please mate'...weird!

Part 4: Dave

NITP and myself had come across a quirky mirror design to help you be aware of your rear end surroundings which was very simple but effective. NITP started to get into a long conversation on the history of the product so I started to drift away to some guys jumping around on BMXs and scooters. NITP eventually finished and came with, the guys were pulling tricks which left you in awe (my words not NITP's!). To even attempt the flips, twists and other nifty technical terms I can't remember to recall takes some cojones in itself. These guys were doing it like it was in their nature. I was very impressed and managed to grab some good shots with the camera phone (my GoPro was whining at this point to come out of its box, call the GoPro Abuse Society if you want but I was having way too much fun with my camera phone at this point!)

Oh here we go again, NITP has started another conversation, you want to tell the whole show that you're getting married?! You inviting them too?! To be fair, the guys from 'Much Better Adventures' were pretty cool and interested in our opinions on cycling holidays. Asked who I would take on a cycling holiday (not NITP, he talks more than Oprah!) it all depends on availability on friends. For companies, its easier to organise a corporate event. When its friends who have families and other commitments, its a lot more difficult to persuade them to spend a few hundred quid on a cycling trip especially when their idea is laying next to a pool rather than sweating out the year's intake of kebabs on a 10km ascent in the middle of nowhere!

At this point, NITP was moaning about his hand blisters (I think they were from a different form of exercise!) so he was conned out of buying a bag when there was a complimentary bag anyway! Duh! Although its contents was questionable. I nearly threw up on the coconut water and I didn't have my Frosties with me so I binned the warm milk! Oh here he goes, SiS, he's a sucker for a bargain. 5 for £5. I'm waiting for Burger King later so I'll pass on this one. But NITP was like Charlie at Willy Wonkas house, what flavour shall I get Dave?! I ignored him and hope he would just dissolve into a gel himself...

Just when I could smell the burgers frying in the gourmet world of Burger King, NITP had to go and bag himself another purchase. Some massage thing which looked like a cross between a shower head and a light saber! I must admit, this thing ticked the boxes when it came to deep tissue massage. Was I tempted to buy one? My urge for food was greater so no! NITP though was hook, line and sinker!

Part 5: The Other Half

Good, he's gone. TV all mine, no bike in the house, can it get any better than this?! Just as long as he doesn't bring anymore bottles, gels or powders (nutritional based!) back in the house, he can look forward to continue breathing...

'I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days.'