I don’t normally talk about work stuff here as I try to keep it about the (generally) more fun and interesting aspects of life! However I’ve got to make an exception in this case as this project has truly been a labour of love. It started as an idea over three years ago when we realised there was no decent web based app that helped people write the one document that was pivotal to the majority of job applications – the CV. Considering its importance in the world of work it’s kind of weird schools and colleges don’t cover it in more detail I reckon. I’ve spoke to so many employers over the last few years that have said the range of quality in CVs they receive when hiring for a new position ranges from atrocious to fantastic and it quite often has no bearing on the applicant. Unfortunately it just seems that some people have no idea what to put on a CV despite being perfectly capable individuals. That’s understandable too; if you haven’t had to apply for many jobs why would you know exactly what your CV should look like?
So we set about envisaging an easy to use web based application that broke down the steps to writing a good CV into manageable sections, offering help and advice as to what an employer is looking for along the way. Each portion of a standard CV was broken down and given it’s own specific page with targeted tips and advice articles on the kind of things that should be entered. We’ve got dedicated pages on the Personal Statement, Education & Work History as well as suggestions for Skills, Hobbies and References. It’s a holistic approach to CV writing and one that puts the job applicant behind the wheel so, although our suggestions are there, it’s the voice of the applicant that gets heard via the final CV.
We also knew we needed to display the finished documents in a variety of professional design styles to offer CV templates to suit each individual and/or occupation. We also wanted it to be accessible to people that had little or no money to spend on their job search. With that in mind we thought feck it, let’s make the majority of it free with some extra bells and whistles for those who fancy an elevated service.
After much brow furrowing, heart-ache, headaches and early coffee fueled shower-less mornings at the PC, Jobulo was finally born last night. The mixture of relief and joy I felt was quite refreshing and now comes the fun bit – actually seeing people get some use out of it! Sounds trite I know, but if you are looking to update your CV you won’t find a better way to do it, go-an give it a try.
It’s a tricky decision to make isn’t it? Especially when, if like me, you don’t have a clue about road bikes. I was never even a fan of the idea of riding on the road to be honest. I used to see a lot of team jersey’d, looking like they’re sponsored roadie types clogging up the New Forest roads in the summer, and thought “what a bunch of benders!”. Who would want to ride on the road, breathing in exhaust fumes when you can get right out into the wilds on a mountain bike? However I’ve taken a complete U-turn from this line of thinking and I’m now one of those benders that’s in your way as you’re trying to drive to Brockenhurst (I have drawn the line at the pro team jersey look though).
There are a few reasons for my change of opinion, the main one being the mess that is caused when trying to regularly mountain bike through a sodding wet British winter. I would actually say the washing machine was doing more miles than me at one point. This year was so wet that some of the forest trails became impassable and many were blocked by trees, felled by the howling storms. Even a relatively short ride like the one below would result in most of my clothing needing to be chucked in the wash.
I started doing a few regular road rides on the MTB and began to see a lot of people on road bikes just slipping through the air a lot more effortlessly. I looked on jealously as my big nobbly tyres roared on against the road. I can’t have this. I want to go fast too. A quick flick through eBay and a few local bike shop’s websites ignited the touch paper. Eventually, in the search for best possible bike for under a grand, I ended up ordering a Canyon – direct from Germany. Most people advise against an internet purchase of a bike you’ve never even sat on for size, especially for a first foray into roadies and I’d say that was decent advice. However, after doing my fit on Competitive Cyclist, I was confident I could pick out the right size using my measurements and Canyon’s frame size geometry chart. Plus Canyon have a 30 day return policy, so if the worst happened and I got the wrong size, there was a path to resolution.
Why a Canyon Roadlite AL 6.0?
I looked at the Cannondale CAAD8, I spent a lot of time mulling over the carbon Mekk 2G Poggio but I ended up ruling carbon out as I wanted a decent all round package and it’s difficult to get a good carbon frame with a 105 groupset (that’s the gears, levers and cogs – you pick up all this jargon after a while) or above for sub £1k.
Then I stumbled onto the Canyon website and was taken aback by all the lovely metal and plastic machines on offer. All of their bikes have a distinctive look with a lot of modern looking logos which I loved but are not to everyone’s taste. Their base level road offering (the Roadlite) not only had the Shimano 105 groupset I was looking for (which actually includes brakes and bottom bracket which some manufacturers duck out of including) but it also came with Mavic Aksium rims which are a big upgrade on pretty much any other bike you can buy for under a grand. In other words it looked like the perfect steed.
After waiting what seemed like an age (8 days) the bike was in my possession. It came with a little torque wrench so you can attach the bars, wheels and saddle along with some assembly paste which I thought was a nice touch. Having said that, the assembly is probably the only downside of ordering from Canyon as to get things totally right you have to have a bit of experience with bikes. After faffing about fitting the wheels and bars (I don’t have a bike stand so had to improvise a bit) i realised that the rear derailleur was slightly out and on a short trip up the road gears were skipping and clicking a bit at the back. This is an issue that’s very easily sorted if you know what you’re doing however I didn’t. I do have a couple of mates who do though, a couple of minutes tinkering using a friend’s stand and knowledge, cheers Switch, the gears were straight, true and slick.
My initial ride thoughts, considering this was my first time on a roadie, were alarming. The thing felt so light and lively, like an excited thoroughbred straining at the reins. The first ride was an early morning last month and there was a bit of ice about on the road, I was in mountain bike mode and threw the handlebars into a left hand corner at a roundabout. The front end immediately lost grip and slid half a foot or so across the tarmac. Luckily I recovered control and all was well but I’d nearly stacked it just a mile or so from the front door! After that my mind was focused a bit more and I started to get tuned into the finer inputs required when piloting a much more responsive machine. The rest of the ride was a revelation, the Canyon is so efficient, it feels like every pedal stroke instantly translates into propulsion down the road. It’s so easy to pile on the speed and the miles, I did 21 on my first ride out on it without even thinking about it. Previously I’d ridden 28 on my mountain bike and could really feel it in my quads afterwards.
There’s a particularly short but sharp climb that I tackle on the way home from go-outs and it’s usually a real killer on the MTB. Under a mile long but you’ll go from a steady 13mph down to 6-7mph as the climb goes from about 2% to what feels like 20% (it’s probably not) in just a few feet. The best I could manage on this climb using the MTB was an average of 11.4mph. The Canyon climbs so well that on my first spin on it I was going 2mph quicker without even gunning for it. Over the next few weeks I used this little climb as a gauge of how I’m doing and on the Roadlite I’m now averaging 16.4mph, a fair bit nippier than the MTB. The only problem with this sort of gauging is you start to become a bit too obsessed by the numbers, I often find it’s best to just get out there and enjoy the ride.
So after 300 miles on the Canyon in six weeks or so I can say that I blooming love it and I’m hooked. I’m even booked in to do my first Sportive next month, so the gears have well and truly taken hold.
So a couple of months in and I thought it was about time I reported back on how I’ve been getting on with the Cube Aim Disc 29er. It’s been among the wettest couple of months on record here in the UK in Jan and Feb which has resulted in limiting my off road mileage. However I’ve still managed to notch up over 100 miles on the Cube so I’ve definitely got to know it a bit.
A hardtail 29er is ideal for The New Forest where most of the stuff you come across is undulating fire road and the bits of single track here and there are not too technical. As I had hoped the Cube is great on this kind of stuff, fast, responsive and agile enough to deal with 30mph descents on bumpy gravel. The hydraulic disc brakes are really good for a bike of this price and you’re thankful of their presence on wet and muddy rides. They really inspire confidence and I think it’s the brakes and the comfort levels that are the standout features of the bike. The Scape saddle hasn’t given me a single ache even when riding more than 20 miles without padded under-garmentry!
The Aim Disc comes with Schwalbe Smart Sams as standard and I’ve found these a good cross country tyre, suited to the tracks around the forest. They’re not incredibly grippy so when the going gets very loose and slidey you will lose traction but the trade off is they’re pretty quick on the road. The smooth line of nobbles down the middle meaning that connecting forest enclosures isn’t too much of a chore. As the weather’s been so bad recently I’ve actually ended up doing a fair few road miles and I’ve enjoyed them for the most part. It’s no road bike but for an entry level hardtail it copes with the tarmac pretty well.
The only downer is the fork, it’s a Suntour XCM jobby, which isn’t great at damping when traveling quickly. Often failing to rebound quick enough to catch the next bump or dip that’s in front of you at speed. Although to be honest, for crashing about the forest and having a laugh on, it’s something that you can happily live with and perhaps something that a lot of people wouldn’t notice unless you rode something much better equipped side by side. You can actually get this exact bike for £379 now at Hargroves – at that price it’s a blooming steal (I have nothing to do with Hargroves, this is just where I bought mine – other bike shops are available).
I’m now looking forward to spring creeping in and the chance to get out in the forest a bit more on this thing, I’ve already been planning a few routes with my better half that involve a few pub pitstops.
This was the view that greeted me yesterday morning just after sunrise and it was enough to light up the dormant stoke inside of me despite the 1c ambient temperature and very light but biting NE wind.
I’m no fan of big cold waves if I’m honest and my experience of them usually leads to a session being summarised by long periods of paddling, small periods of trying to avoid clean up sets, slightly smaller spells of near drowning and a generally pretty low wave count so during a week of overhead clean swell I’ve generally been pretty happy to knuckle down and get some work done with a view to catching it when it faded to a manageable level.
So I had my eyes fixed on Sunday, 4ft @ 12 second period and just a touch of NE wind to give some texture, I was hoping for waist to chest high right hand walls at Saunton on my current stick of choice – an Ectic Concepts Mini Simmons – and that’s pretty much what I got. If I’m being picky the sets weren’t as consistent as I would have liked and not all of them opened up in that long wally Saunton way but I’d be splitting hairs and since as the sun came out to remind you it still exists in mid-winter it would be rude to do that.
In truth this session would have been on the good side of mediocre if it hadn’t been for a right hander that came through late doors. I’d been in for just shy of two hours, arms starting to feel a bit noodley weighed down by saturated winter neoprene and wind starting to pick up a little…. One last wave I thought. And then as if the Atlantic knew what I’d been thinking a wedgey peak came bumbling towards me, I swivelled and gunned my arms as fast as I could noticing it start to wall up to my right, this is it. Dropping in at an angle I raced the first section rising to the top of the wave, then arcing down feeling the grip of the keel fins as the next section walled up in front of me at speed, I raced the rest of the wave in trim all the way into the shallows. This is what it’s all about……
Photography & Thoughts on Surfing, Cycling, Football and Some Other Crap