Funkeld and the F.B(ish).R.O.T.Y

20 02 2017

As I sit watching the rain come down, I reflect on a February that has provided some pretty reasonable riding.

A few weeks ago, I took a spin around Dunkeld. It is no secret that there are some super fun – technical and steep, that is – trails in Dunkeld. Indeed, it is often referred to as Funkeld.

Although it was very cold, I had a blast on B.A, searching out ribbons of singletrack, snaking over rock and root between the varied trees of this beautiful area.

In sharp contrast to many friends, I do not generally find dropper posts the be-all and end-all of bicycle componentry. However, in Dunkeld, they would probably be described as mandatory.

After broadening my smile with some fun riding, the next ride was all about miles in the bank. From Balmaha, climb through Queen Elizabeth forest, Loch Lomondside (including the new upper section except for the short part I rode a little while ago – just too little time for that) and back. Why big-ish?

There was a lot of snow on some sections of the Queen Elizabeth forest tracks, so eventually I popped out on the road, just before Loch Chon and missed a few km of off-road while thawing out on the way to Inversnaid. The road is a lot easier than the trail, so I deduct some points for overall achievement.

Compared to a year ago, I am firing on a lot more cylinders. I am still curious as to why I had such a physical collapse last year, Lyme crossed my mind, though I don’t often get tick bites.

Who knows? I am just glad to be building fitness and strength again. Though the kettle bells and rowing still hurts.

Here’s to March and the glimmer of Spring…

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Optimisation, part 2: Tooling up.

11 02 2017

What to carry when you ride. It’s a balance, isn’t it? on the one, hand you don’t want to be too encumbered with un-needed stuff, but on the other, a mechanical that can’t be fixed means a walk out.

Perhaps a long one.

The other key thing to keep in mind – the tools you carry *must* be effective. If you cant reach that essential 4mm hex bolt with your super-dooper, wee multi tool, it is useless.

Over the years, I have whittled down what I carry and made changes to the tools themselves in the interests of balancing utility with minimisation.

One relatively recent change has been the use of Backcountry Research Aweseme Straps and it’s various stable mates. These at-first-glance simple webbing straps have gone through several iterations to produce what I consider to be essential items. The Tülbag, courtesy of the inimitable Team Dicky is also well thought out – a good size, zip puller and grippy coated material make it an excellent jersey pocket take-along.

In it, I have a 5, 6 and 8mm PB Swiss hex key. These are coloured so they are more difficult to lose in grass and are made to exacting tolerances. There is a magnetic bit holder that allows me to use a PH2, slotted 5.5mm, T25, 2, 2.5, 3, and 4mm bits as needed.

I used to use the PB Swiss bike tool. This has most of the above tools, but also 2 integrated tyre levers and the subtle difference was down to me adding a 8mm bit. In use though, anything that requires an 8mm bit required enough torque that it damaged the magnetic bit holder over time, rendering it, eventually, useless.

I also never use tyre levers. All my tyre and rim combinations can be remounted by simple thumb pressure. It just takes practice.

What else? a Park tools folding chain tool and 10 or 11 speed quick link.

I also carry a Race Face 8 to 16mm adaptor. This is used to tighten their next SL and sixc cranks. essential if seldom (never? – so far!) required.

Occasionally, I add a ‘specialist’ tool… like this Bentley Components carbo loading tool – light and effective.