Photo essay: EBB service.

21 01 2013









Utility belt.

19 01 2013

What is the first thing that springs to mind when someone says “utility belt” to you? Batman? Action Man/G.I Joe? the military?

Over the last few years I have tried to move away from carrying a ruck sack on short/local rides. The reasons are self evident – less encumbrance and a less sweaty back. However, there is no doubt it is useful to carry a few tools, spares and in some instances food and other items such as a camera or mini tripod. Even that inescapable sign of modernity the iPhone has to be packed somewhere.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I first started mountain biking, a bum bag (or fanny pack if your are from over the pond) was the way to carry your stuff. Along with global hypercolour t-shirts, Oakley frogskins and Axo pony boots, it was a sign of the times. If you were on your game, your bum bag would have a bottle holster as well.

Of course, if overstuffed, the weight around your waist was an issue as the straps could dig in, or the bag could slide around pretty easily. That banana for mid ride snack might get squished in a crash as well.

As the years went by and specifically with the introduction of Camelbaks (hydrate or die!) a ruck sack became de rigeur. Nowadays, I would say you don’t look the part unless there is an Osprey or a fluorescent rain-covered lump on your back. Mountain biking turtles.

But with sensible choices, all equipment can be stowed about your person and on the bike, negating the need for the ruck sack. Perhaps you will stow the tube, levers and a multi too in a small under saddle bag. A bar bag (the Revelate gas tanks and mountain feedbags are ideal) make space for snacks and your phone to be within reach when needed. Baggy pants and shorts mean a belt can be used to attach a small hip pack or two giving stable, accessible places to keep the camera, your keys and maybe an extra layer of clothing.

I tend to use a Patagonia webbing belt, a small Pac designs pouch and perhaps another Timbuk 2 or Wingnut auxiliary pouch. Occasionally I also attach a folding saw in case of deadfall or low branches. However, you can buy ready-to-go versions such as the Lowe Pro street & field utility belt.

As is so often the way, what goes around comes around. Bum bags have become utility belts.

For those truly interested and/or bored I will list my 2-3 hour max/not-isolated destination ride kit:

iPhone in clear zip lock bag.
Canon S95.
Mini tripod.
1x Park tyre lever.
1x lightweight continental inner tube.
1x Genuine innovations Mountain pipe.
1x Genuine innovations folding multi tool – well worth a look – as the bits fit well and they are small, light and offer plenty of leverage.
1x food (flap jack, energy bar, Clif bloks).
Sometimes a Gerber folding saw.
1x water bottle.

1x Patagonia Houdini jacket if rain is a possibility.

That’s it.


7 01 2013

An escape yesterday. Wet trails, drizzle, but it didn’t matter. Under the canopy of the trees, tidying up some trail and leaning the bike as far as traction would allow. Hard to resist.

The greens (moss, grass) clearly benefitting from the wet conditions. The smell of wet pine. Slippery bridges upped the ante but new bypasses keep the flow, just.

I received some Conti Rubber Queen’s the other day which are allegedly the fabled Black Chili compound ‘race sport’ versions. I was a little perturbed to find that they weighed the same as the basic versions i already have and had no indication that they were in fact Black Chili. They are marked as made in India – which in itself is no issue, but the consensus is that the Black Chili is all made in Germany.

I contacted the vendor and was assured that Conti has allowed use of Black Chili in Indian made tyres due to production limits at the German plant – basically they are unable to supply demand from the German factory. However, I remain skeptical and other than using the tyres, I have no way to know for sure. Hmm.

Why so much focus? Well, the Black Chili tyres are considerably more expensive and should grip much better on the very wet rocks, roots and mossy wood work that I spend a lot of time on.

I’d welcome any information if anyone has anything to share, though I suspect it will become clearer in time.

Talking of tyres, I was given a digital pressure gauge as a present for christmas. It has been very interesting to use. The gauge on my old Park pump is broken and it would appear that my ‘squeeze the tyre’ method has been somewhat flawed! The Jones was sitting at 13psi front and 20psi rear. Ulp!….in saying that, I haven’t had too many punctures! nevertheless, I upped the pressure to 15psi front just in case…