11 07 2016

In response to my last post, today’s ride was not all about miles covered.

I headed to the Trossachs and rode past Ben Ledi, on the national cycle route 7, to Balquhidder, then on to Lochearnhead and up Glen Ogle.

So far, a little repetitive, I admit. The headwind, however, did give the ol’ gammons a good work out as I climbed on the old rail line.

Once at the Falls of Dochart, the plan was to whip round Loch Tay and climb up to Ben Lawers. I was hoping to have enough time to get up and over the top to see what the trail was like after the summit, but I was unsure if the weather would play nice, or the low cloud and mizzle would make it a little pointless. The last time I was up there, a squall of snow made life pretty interesting.

The MWIS suggested wind would be a factor as I got higher and may be strong enough to impede progress. So it goes with summer in Scotland.

I made pretty quick time up the initial climb, before turning off and hop-scotching over the rocky, eroded trail then the tight rock armoured switchbacks up Beinn Ghlas.

Sure enough, as I hit 900m above sea level or so, the wind decided it wanted to play. The cloud banks were rolling over Meall Corranaich, and up from Coire Odhar, before enveloping the top of Beinn Ghlas and presumably Ben Lawers, beyond.

With the concept of an unimpeded view unlikely and the wind making the H.A.B a bit of a pain, I turned tail and made short work of the decent, before a rotor scorching drop to Loch Tay and a return pretty much the way I came out.

It felt good to get up a proper hill and take on the rocky decent. A fine response to feeling a little stagnation!

Got to’s and want to’s…

10 07 2016

Life is full of challenges: sometimes you have to accept the got to’s rather than enjoying the want to’s.

The last few rides have been in the 70 mile or so bracket, played out under rain and grey skies.

Not the preparation I want, but it’s what I’ve got. There has not been sufficient time and the weather hasn’t played ball to allow the kind of long, dusty rides in challenging terrain, under cerulean skies.

So, I have covered the same ground repeatedly and just kept ticking over the miles. I am not confident that a NUE race is going to be pretty, but thems the breaks.


10 07 2016

Wow. The floodgates seemed to open for a bit there.

I had decided to strip out a rim, rebuild it into a different hub, with a view to using a 29+ tyre on the front of my most ‘xc’ bike.

Maul came into being some years ago, when I still used to race xc and 6 to 12 hour races. It was as close to a pure xc race bike as I will ever likely get. Light, fast and stripped down. Sean nailed the geo to provide comfort and laser fast handling.

It was built prior to ‘plus’ tyres and neither the fork nor the short rear triangle have room for the bigger meats, but recently, I have begun to struggle to ride anything else. For me, they offer more comfort, control and speed in nearly all situations.

As a result, I wanted to put a plus sized tyre on the front of Maul, in the knowledge that I like the ‘mullet’ set up, with a normal 29er in the rear.

The niner fork *just* clears a plus tyre, but it isn’t enough for muddy conditions, so I went for an Enve fork. this has 85mm or so of clearance and also has an interesting dropout ‘chip’ giving the option of 52 or 44mm of offset. Otherwise, it will keep the geometry pretty much where it needs to be with a very slight lift at the front.

I built the wheel 2x right 3x left with robust DT Swiss comp spokes (I wanted it to be stiff and opted for this pattern as the spoke lengths worked out perfectly as well) and used a minimal strip of tubeless tape before inflating a Maxxis Chronicle and dropped it into the frame.

I also needed to replace the drivechain, opting for a shimano 11-42 block to give my old-man legs some respite and realised the brakes needed new pads and a bleed as well.

While I was about it, I replaced the saddle that had been sagging a little to the left, a comfortable perch that had reached the end of the trail.

It has been a while since I needed to do so much work on a bike, but I guess it has served me well – needing precious little wrenching for many years now.

With the fork set up in the long offset, the front end is very light steering and the fat tyre soaks up the knocks. Overall, I like it a lot – but it does need more grip on the front tyre to fully take advantage of the slightly longer front centre and increased offset. Until the new crop of more aggressive 29+ tyres become available, I may put it in the shorter offset position and see how that works.

However, it is now ready for the next few years of trails and maybe even some races…