Friday, 21 December 2012

Xmas bingeing

Works do yesterday so pub for a few games of pool before going to Bem Brazil to eat lots and lots of animal chunks. Wow they don't half feed you in that place, some damn nice charred flesh on offer, my favourite was probably the chicken thighs but the pineapple at the end was quite stomach settling. Rest of the day and night was spent pub crawling round Manchester, was a right laugh but I called it a night just after 10 (and gto plenty of abuse for finishing early doors), walking to the train station in the rain I had a daft idea about riding to work in the morning, hmmm. Bottle of water at the station lots more when I got home and woke feeling if not fine then certainly a lot better than I deserved. Mrs told me not to ride in (and that I stank) so waited til she'd gone out and got the bike out. It was marvellous, cruising into work at a nice steady pace, a brief respite from the constant wind and rain we've had lately, lovely. Saw a couple of deer at darcy lever so I stopped to watch them, good start, squirrels, rabbits, sheep, horses, an idiotic school run mum, heron, ducks and geese, alsorts of fauna. Some of the bigger bumps gave my delicate head a bit of pain but other than that I was a happy man xc commuting is brilliant, mind you I'm probably still drunk.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Real life

The new bike honey moon period is over back to wet feet and punctures (plural) riding along the canal monday morning the back end went all wobbly, flipped the bike over and realised that out here it's a bit trickier to change tyres than at the side of the road under sodium lamps and finding somewhere to stand the bike that wasn't water, mud or dog egg covered grass was a bit tricky, thank heaven for head torches is all I can say. Wet feet by the time I got to work but apart from that I was pretty damn clean, these SKS are better than the ones on my pompy, sturdy plastic mudflap on the front prevents ankles/legs getting sprayed and the rear guard is not as long which means wheeling it along on back wheel (negotiating gates/cupboards/lifts) is much easier. After a couple of hours at work I noticed front had gone flat too :-( Not a great strike rate so far then, what with schwalbe duranos on the pompy and mostly tubeless on my MTBs punctures have been pretty rare. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

Riding home on monday I got soaked, no I mean proper soaked, ring out your gloves and jacket sleeves and then still big puddles of water under the radiator half an hour later soaked. Lots of rain, was still smiling when I got home tho cx commuting is fun :-)

Friday, 14 December 2012


An impromptu trip to the dentist meant an 8mile roadtrip to leigh, 8 miles off-road/sustrans to monton another 8mile on road to work then 13miles home off-road, all on tired legs, a good test for the all rounder-ness of the day one. This gearing feels exactly halfway between pompino and the 456*, still seemed a bit spinny on the way to leigh but apart from the climb out of bolton it's mostly downhill. Got to leigh feeling OK. Quick sit down in the chair, thankfully nowt painful then off again, been a while since I've ridden around the leigh/tyldesley country, the dirt roads were mainly OK but with occasional patches of dirt coloured ice, sneaky, by the time I spotted them I couldn't avoid them, so slowly breathe out, stay loose, think smooth thoughts and once back on terrafirma then scream like a girl. Looks like there's been some surfacing work been done on the paths here. Most of the tracks leading to route 55 were OK, just a couple of icey/boggy sections but I'm probably seeing them at their winter best, next week after a few days of mild temps and rain they may well be horrible.

Route 55 was despatched quickly, much nicer on bigger softer tyres and lower gearing, I tried a new route near swinton golf club that seemed to be going in the right direction, resulted in a 2 mile loop and ending up not far from where I started, ho hum. Easy spin into Manchester, still felt a little undergeared but not too bad. Down a big flight of stairs to the canal at the YHA, wrists took a bit of a battering but not too bad, then along the canal to work. Another day another route home, I went via the train line and pendlebury canal, despite my tired little leggys I was pretty swift along there, then back on the singletrack and prestolee canal, got home feeling great, really enjoyable commute. So after all that I'm pretty happy with the bike, extended road rides might be a pain (tho not as soul destroying as mtb SS road sections) but hopefully I won't be riding too many of those anyway. If I can keep up the xc commuting through a few weeks of wet winter weather I reckon there's a good chance I'll be flogging my pompino.

*sheldon says pomp 70" day one 63" c456 52" so I wasn't too far off

Day one

Soooo tuesday morning bright and frosty, well dark actually but clear skys and a pretty cool sickle moon. Got to the bottom of the street turned offroad and hit my first obstacle, a vertical wooden plank, not very comfortable on the bike yet I approached slowly and without commitment, lifted the front wheel over had second thoughts and braked and stopped as the rear wheel hit, keeled over against the fence. Ahem. Mind you it could have been worse (Doesn't get any less funny with repeated viewing) The muddy bit through darcy lever was tricky thick crust on the churned up mud slowed you right down then as you slowed you broke through the crust into the sticky mud and tricky to get going again. Yuk. Headed through moses gate, some ice around but managed to avoid most of it and gingerly cross what I couldn't avoid. Got to the wall of death hypothermia, about as wide as the bars so hardly a skinny but there's nearly a mile of it and the frosty bits were off putting, failure may not end up with broken bones but a dunking in the canal in these temps several miles from home would be bad.

There's a right bog before the climb to ringley road almost stalled and fell into that, ewwww. This bike is obviously not as capable on tricky thrutchy stuff as my ss mtb. Some frosty road, over the motorway (climb up to the bridge is never going to be doable with this gearing) and the easy route through HTN country, chatted to a rider commuting without lights (brave) then I said goodbye and really started to shift, this is what this bike is for, playing down the power on open nto too tech trails, woosh. All along the river watching the dawn, clear sky, manchester skyline and peak district behind aw nice.

Bit of cross town stuff, a few short flights of stairs, made it in to work ok, no problems and not even very dirty. Good stuff

Riding home it was even colder, decided to hit the singletrack, SS bikes have their own optimum speed depending on gearing and this one is several mph faster than my c456. So I'm heading down a trail i've not ridden in months, on an unfamiliar bike that is less capable than I'm used to, there's ice around, it's dark and I'm shifting a fair bit faster than usual. So far so awesome :-) Blasted along really enjoying it, lots of fun and quick. Guess I'm used to the new bike then, even managed to hop the missing stone on the WoH but grounded out my chainring on the big step climbing up to nob end (fnar) oops.

Weds was more of the same, set off and my legs felt drained pushig it hard on the singletrack had taken it's toil, was coasting in until I hit the singletrack and then, well this bike likes to go at a certain speed and my legs seemed happy to comply. Few sketchy moment, a tyre rolls over soft mud making a rut this then freezes and these tiny ruts which don't really bother fat tyres can be rather tricky for skinnys, nearly had a few offs when ruts coincided with corners but no actual crashes so far. So far so good, I like it, Thursday would be the big test tho.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

STW ride rivi again

Johnnie decided to host a forum ride, there were a few interested parties, was looking like it might be icy but on the day it was mild wet and windy. Not feeling my usual self, went upto moss bank met Si and we rode over. Hole in the wall was even slippier than it has been but had a brilliant run down wildes, my corner is now very cut up but the rest is in ok nick. Turned out to be 20 of us, briefly, hora had already been riding and was off to the velodrome so didn't make it as far as the pike. I "led" the group off the pike, hit the drops quick got to the ruts and promptly got very sideways and nearly binned it, I could hear binners chuckling behind me, this has gotten a LOT worse since last time (couple of weeks now). I made it down to the cobbled road in one piece then figured I'd stop and watch the carnage, I was not disappointed, a good few tumbles but no injuries. Next we were off to do the top half of wildes, did the two blind bends then saw hiv viz and horses up ahead, eeek, slammed on and shouted for everyone to stop, the horse riders moved off the trail and shouted us through, weeeee. Everyone enjoyed that unlike the super steep road rake and the slog up to the mast where a monster headwind really slowed us down. Some eager fellas sped off into the distance the rest of us stopped at the mast building out of the wind while the more relaxed pace riders caught up. The fast guys eventually came back to join us on the verge of hypothermia just as the back markers caught up, off we go then :-) Mark (I think) was on a very light scandal SS 29er, with a silly high saddle, didn't seem to be slowing him down much as he was close behind me for most of san marino, only fell behind when I let the bike run a bit more when the ground firmed up after the drop. Smiles all round at the bottom and amazingly no punctures, couldn't believe it.

Decision time, the rivi road would be heavy with traffic (and a horrible climb) Johnnie's original idea of going back up san marino would likely have gotten him lynched so I suggested the quarry. Binners and a friend took the road, the rest of us headed quarry-wards. Johnnie was worried about the dodgy corner so I rode on ahead and sat on the edge of the drop to warn/catch people, lots of people walked it, a few cleaned it and a few tried but keeping their weight too far to the left (scared of the drop to the right) and didn't quite make it. Always difficult how to pitch this stuff, reckon we may have put off a few people who could have ridden it and caused those who did attempt it to be a bit too tense but there is a high penalty for failure so guess you should play it safe. There was a crash or two on the steep chute but everyone got to the bottom injury free. Climbed up to scout road, Si split there as his legs were going, then we faced the purgatory of coal pit road, headwind kicked in big time and we suffered a lot. We were waiting ages at the top to regroup, a couple more left us as they had to get home quick. Eventually we climbed up the to the mast rd, I took a few guys thirsty for more up to two lads, Johnnie took the rest down hole in the wall. 2 lads was slippy as ever, all of us getting some unintentional sideways action. Met the group and went to do ICR, Mark took the racing chicken line I hit the roacks, unsurprisingly he was quicker but I'll take the moral victory ;-) my arms were shagged at the bottom, could hardly pull the brakes. Decided I'd head back to the cars with everyone to partake of the cake so down we all went. There was no cake :-( Quick chat with people, johnnie offered me a lift which I declined, said my good byes and headed back up the hill. Halfway up AICR I got the shakes and my legs started to go and I wasa regretted turning down a lift. Re only eaten 2 fig rolls since breakfast, snarfed a few more and started to feel better. Headed down georges lane and home via road, any incline made my legs hurt, was feeling a little delicate by the time I got home.

Pretty good ride, nice to show strangers round your local trails, only a middle distance ride but was aching next day, I know the headwind had a big effect but still seemed to have taken a lot out of me, hmmm. Don't think anyone took pics, so sorry, nothing to see here.

Monday, 10 December 2012

On the first day of christmas

OK, ok, the first day of december. Had seen Day Ones a bit cheap at langsett cycles, had another look at the site last weekend to see £105 off! Countdown timer said I had just 30 hours left to purchase (back to full rrp now) Result! get it ordered! Turned up on friday and it looks nice. Weighed it naked against my pompy with guards and they were pretty much same weight, considering the discs and chunky tyres I was happy with that but as it's a working bike it need guards on it. Sooooo...

Rubbish shaky pic but it's a nice blue. Had to do a bit of bodging to get the guards on but pretty happy with the results, they seem sturdy enough.



The thing is, the guards are over 600grammes, I had no idea they were so heavy, this lardy bike is now pushing on for 12Kg ah well lets see how it rides before I start moaning about it.
erm yeah not actually had a chance to ride it yet went up and down the front street and tried riding up some steps, very badly, but not offroad yet, big ride yesterday so no commute, hopefully test it out properly tomorrow, fingers crossed. If the concept works (full guards on proper offroad, well obviously not ICR type stuff but trails more technical than sustrans routes) then I can see a few cheap ways to lose some mass from the bike. If it doesn't work then I may retire the pompy and run this on road/sustrans routes instead, see how it goes.


My ageing mudguards finally gave up the ghost last week, too many lumps and bumps, the mount broke mid commute, rattled my way into work then broke out the zipties.

Sorted. Well til I nipped to the bank at lunchtime and they broke. OK time to call in the big guns.

Duck tape'll do it. Several xc commutes later and it's still going strong. Nice one.