25 02 2013

A week of sunshine. Riding lots…about 16 hours in the last 8 days. I am really happy about that. I have ridden long ish or short ish rides solo, with others (more on that shortly) and with Daisy. There have been times when I have just stopped, sat on the grass and soaked up the rays. Beautiful!…

Two pictures from todays short ish ride.



Soul riding.

17 02 2013

Sun light dappled the singletrack around Loch Lomond today. I was out on Maul, the aim being Balmaha to Inversnaid. F.B.R.O.T.Y? (first big ride of the year)….well, maybe. There was a time, a few years ago, when I would have polished this ride off before lunch then come back to the table for seconds, maybe even thirds. Now, the 4 and a half hours it took me to go there and back left me empty, clawing around in the back of the car, thankful as I found an old packet of tortilla chips that had been overlooked.

The trail has not been treated kindly by the weather: some of the rocky sections near Inversnaid are tricky due to soil being washed away and the roots are even more exposed than in years gone by. The moss made any steep-drop in a little more of a clenching affair – and the cut-in shelf around a large rock protruding over the water a serious no-no.

It was *such* a good ride. Real soul riding. I have not done any off road riding recently other than local trails, which, though excellent fun, lack some of the feeling of ‘out there’. Loch Lomond is hardly wilderness, but damn! it was good to be amongst the mountains, picked out as they were with snow patches and sunlight.

My camera battery was weak and the light was often not great, but it felt good to ‘capture’ a different view.

Kit notes: I wore a Patagonia capilene 4 top over a capilene base T with a Marmot dry clime vest over the top. I was way too hot. That is a very good thing. Spring is around the corner.


13 02 2013

A dry day. Some fresh trail: narrow, bench cut, squiggly through some trees and a wee rock that is a pinch point for tyres. BANG! instant flat. Inspection reveals a 1.5cm tear in the sidewall of a 2.4 Mt King II fitted one ride previously….


Oh well, them is the breaks.

That was when I was thankful for my habbit of sticking gorilla tape in patches all over my bike for various reasons. Two sections made a tyre boot  and I was on my way home. But not before trying the line again. Success.

A new one (Black Chili finally) to go on. Narrower, but it may suit the mud. We’ll see.


7 02 2013

Its been an untidy month. Lots of little bits of things here and there. House projects and problems, bits and bobs relating to work, inconsistent riding in the gaps. There have been efforts to pursue my track accreditation, but due to ‘issues’ with how sessions are booked I am still trying to do my level 3. Why? although there is a system for booking the highly in demand places, this is frequently being circumnavigated. As a result, as soon as the sessions come ‘on line’ they are already full: frustrating to say the least.  I also, out of desperation, renewed my love/hate relationship with the ergo. I find that rowing machines offer a similar full-body and cardio workout to getting some time on a technical trail on the bike. I aim for a couple of 1500m rows, each in <5 minutes and over the course of 3 visits to the gym I can do it, but I am far from comfortable. I have also dusted down the kettlebells and have put this all into a pretty intense ‘cross fit’ style session. Do I feel the benefits yet? vaguely! but as I am not getting on the trails too often, it will have to do!

What else? well, since they first appeared, I have been intrigued by Surly’s 29+ platform – the Krampus. I have chewed over some of the pros and cons with experienced back country biker Cass Gilbert: he seems to like it – a lot!  There is no doubt that fat bike parts are produced in relatively low quantities and the demand has been such that they can be difficult to get hold of. As time has passed, my curiosity led me to pre-order a Krampus from the fine fellow and purveyor of fine bicycles Tim at Sideways Cycles. It seems the arrival of the frame, rims and tyres is imminent, so gathering parts for the build has been thrust to the fore, my aim being to minimise dismantling and re-purposing of too many components form the current brood of bikes.


Surly’s image: taken from facebook.

At present, the aim will be to build up a medium frame with Rabbit Hole rims and Knard tyres, built onto XT hubs, with a 9 speed/saint rear derailleur and shifter and single ring on an old, polished xt crank. I think I have a King headset kicking about that will work and I will probably use a 70mm or 80mm Thomson or Syntace stem from my parts box – depending on what feels best. Surly recommend a wide bar, so I will initially fit a Watson Cycles Parkarino. Not sure on saddle or post yet – something poached. Brakes will be m785 XT. I had wondered about building it singlespeed at first, but I suspect to unleash the potential some gears will be useful. I am really looking forward to riding this bike. Of course the gears are already turning, and I reckon with some judicious design, perhaps an 83mm bb coupled with a 150mm rear end, even shorter stays could be made to work, perhaps in ti. I’ll give it a shot then I might need to speak to Sean at Vertigo Cycles.

Talking of Vertigo Cycles, I also have some ultralight Nate tyres coming from Tim for the upcoming Vertigo cycles fat bike. Sean is moving premises at present and has recently taken delivery of some interesting, large machinery. Watch this (that?) space!

And talking of curiosity, I finally decided to reposition the contact points on the Jones. That bike hasn’t changed in years. There has been no need. But once an idea gets stuck in your head, it can be difficult to ignore. The genesis was a brief ride on Biff’s (UK Jones alpha cheese) own Jones 69er, which I felt had a slightly higher bb than my Jones. I wondered what my bike would feel like with the eccentric turned to raise the bb height from its current, low, position. In essence, this would ‘destabilise’ the bike, but perhaps make it more suited to the riding that is prevalent around Mugdock – my local trail system.

Someone asked me recently about how the Jones rode and whether it was particularly suited to the trails I ride most often. The answer was ‘superbly’ and a resounding ‘yes’ to the latter. Of course, it is hard to ascertain whether I have gravitated towards a particular bike design due to my love of tight, twisty, woods riding, or whether that sort of riding is so enjoyable because the bike makes it so.

I didn’t want to alter my saddle-to-bar position too much, so I needed to make sure the seat post was long enough to get correct leg extension and also mess around with stem and bar orientation. With a total of 12 mm of throw available on the Bushnell EBB, I needed to be able to move the bars and saddle this much as well. In the end, once the chain was taut, the saddle needed to be raised 10mm and I simply flipped the loop bars (raising them about 20mm). I now have one ride on the ‘new’ set up: my initial impression is ‘ho hum’. The frame is designed with a large bb drop, which gives the rider a real ‘in the bike’ feel and makes it very stable in technical going. However, the short trail/with high offset fork and short wheelbase keeps things extremely agile. It is a good mix. For me, the slightly higher BB may be too much, so I will probably revert back. Prior to doing so, I may try a 10mm shorter, zero rise (rather than -6 degree) stem and the bars flipped again, losing 8-9mm height, but bringing the reach down by a similar amount. We’ll see. I have learned something about that bike for sure: I really do like the way it was set up, it wasn’t just a case of being used to it!

I have also been mulling over my proposed Iceland trip. I think I have a notion of a workable route. I need to decide whether I am going to benefit from and therefore go to the expense of ordering an Alpacka packraft for this route. Then, I would need to learn to use it! I want to, but will admit to some nervousness. Additionally, Alpacka have a new raft add-on that allows the tubes to double as storage. The weight being lower adds to stability in rougher water. Hmmm!

So: many little projects on the go and no real conclusions on bigger ones. I am hoping for some time/weather windows to slot in a couple of bike packing trips soon. Forest bathing, don’t you know. More as it happens