Friday, December 29, 2006

James Brown

There will never be another. Rest in peace.

The devil is in the details

And although she may wear Prada, she prolly weilds a set of vernier gauges too.

I went to change the aluminium blocks that hold the rails of the saddle and allow rotational adjustment on my Moots seatpin today. See, the rear sections had distorted around the saddle rails and I had wondered if I had, y'know, over torqued the bugger.

After that tense, breath held moment of forcing open the top clamp area, I pushed in 2 similar clamps I had left over from an old Control Tech seat pin and which I had decided were the same thing.

Hah! Nope, one was, the other was not...see it seems the top half and the bottom half on the moots are not the same. One has a chamfered edge, the other not, one is narrower than the other also. The 2 from the control tech seatpin were both non-chamfered edge, and thus the overall diameter of the barrel thus formed holding the rails was greater than the originals. So, I sent another quiet 10minutes changing them back again.

Oh well.

Just a few things that have been going through my head recently

1) Dignity: Leaving rubbish around. Claiming you are something you are not. Stepping on others on the way up. Politicians lying. Only seeing what is right in front of your eyes, not the milieu it is part of. Poisoning our children's world. A lack of dignity in all.

2) Time: Too little of it spent with family, friends, self. Ignoring the personal development time known in Zen as 'mindfulness'. The seepage of time as your goals edge further away and deadlines creep closer.

3) Happiness: Is not directly correlated to money. Seemingly this has been proven by studies in the UK showing the National Wealth has more than doubled, yet people are less happy. Is the distribution even vaguely fair? Does gaining wealth beyond a certain point lead to an emptying of the soul? See point 1.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Winter coat

Despite the best intentions, I was always going to don the winter coat as the weather turns nasty and the food and alcohol began to pile up around my ears.

I niggling voice is asking me just what I want to do with next season. Do I want to race? If so what? And if so, how hard? Should I (gasp) train?

Lots of questions and as yet no answers. However, I did invest in some new running shoes. It was one of those afternoons and I just needed to run, but the only shoes I have are trail runners and they rip my ankles to shreds on the roads. So I popped by a running shop called Achilles Heel and got the full intro to running shoes and then tried out a few with the friendly, non pressurising staff. Got me a pair of Asics with an extra squishey sole. I am fortunate (I think) to have non pronating, wide feet so I don't tend to tip over. I am still unclear if this is the case when under the influence.

Anyways, put an hour of tarmac pounding into them and whaddayaknow? they are pretty soft and forgiving. Definitely a step up...(ha ha!)

The thing that I found out whilst embarking on the early season running was that my non generic ipod mp3 thing (made by sony) needs some way to attach to my person that does not utilise the finger and hair elastic method. This is not confidence inspiring and can lead to an mp3 player nasal passage interface if one is not careful. Fortunately, Santa was listening and I am the proud owner of a wee clippity thing which will attach said black box of rock to my chest.

In the past 48 hours I have slept 25 hours. It seems cooking crimbo tea is just too much for a softy like me, and I couldn't cope with the chef's specials all afternoon as I chopped and whisked. So more early nights and looking forward to hogmanay.

What are your plans for the coming 12 months?

Monday, December 18, 2006


So we are cooking for crimbo this year. Me and trina and david (trina's bro). We decided on roast beef, as lets face it turkey is always a little dry and disappointing. Red meat also goes better with red wine, and that is the only thing that will save me from a Bloody Mary induced coma, so that is it.

It's been a steep learning curve tho'. We have never roasted anything but chicken and assorted fowl, so beef was a shocker. How hot? how long? how prepare? and how do you time the tatties and veggies.

I sort of felt that because of my chromosome arrangement I would have an innate ability to cook meat by roasting. I s'pose it should be the dowry with willies on shouldn't it? but having studied the usual texts I am faced with trial and error. Today's effort was passable. Not rare enough, too little oil on the bits and bobs in the roasting tray, but the Madeira gravy was good, if a little short on fat.

So: we are almost there, with no more practice runs and a 3kg block of Scotland's finest rolled sirloin to go...

Wish me luck.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Too much, too much

Several things:

Calderfest this last week end. Huge fun, huge riding, huge laughing, huge smiles.

I feel sure the tales will be spun for some time to come...

See flickr for photos: these borrowed from Makinster and Philipdiprose1974

If you happen to be finishing off a wheel (like, say, my DT rim to DT hub....) and find there is a flat spot in the rim when you have got to the end of radial truing, I found this can be alleviated. Use a 2cm or so doweling and run it perpendicular between the spokes - stand on it, then pull with all your might upwards. At the point you feel you are about to pop out a hernia, you may have a round rim again, like the DT turned out.

Shaggy is a double world champion adventure racer after this week end. Check his blog. I'm sure he'll update when he wakes up. In the meantime, hardcore brah.

Calderfest also saw the first Skull and Cross bikes.

No rules, no entry just horrific weather, super hard course and a few very stalwart gentlemen.

Hardcore indeed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

S S W C 2 0 0 7

As you may well know, I am one of 3 who are organising sswc2007.

So, we put up a wee flag in the corner of the internet and called it our own.


More as soon as it happens.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Building another wheel. I found the front wheel I was using on my Seven road/cross/road thing was, lets say, less than smooth. the bearings were gubbed, and the axle was bent. Yep, bent. Anyone bent a front axle recently? weird. It was a deore hub, so no great loss.

I decided to build a lighter/better wheel for replacing it, and thanks to dave at Alpine Bikes, I picked up a DT RR 1.1 single eyelet front rim, and a DT 340 road front hub. Together with comp spokes and steel nips this should be a long lasting tough wheel.

The rim has been interesting to build with. I haven't built many wheels that have had anything other than mavic rims and there does seem to be differences in building 'experience'. How this translates into feel whilst riding and or durability I have yet to see.

So far the salsa delgado disc are holding up well, and the 29mm width is so good, allowing super floatation and low pressure. They were pretty malleable to build with which was quite nice, as they didn't seem to spring out of true when approaching final tweaks. The DT, somewhere inbetween I'd say.

I do have a dream wheel in me somewhere, and that is a DT 190 ceramic centreloc front with comps to a delgado with alloy nips. I know I can do it, and make it strong, but the consequences of screwing it up would be pretty har$h...


Speedgoat is a shop in PA, USA. They have exceptional stock and excellent knowledge. They do a top website too, with a good blog-read-thing.

I am going to copy and paste one of their entries here, as it made me laugh out loud. I hope that isn't interwebrude, and I would encourage one and all to check it out every now and then...

Q: Number one, on a scale from one to ten how likely would you say it would be to taco this wheel? I ruined my front wheel on my Unit 29 3 days after getting it, and I want to get a new wheelset that I won`t have to worry about. I`ll take some added weight to get a set that is bomb-proof. I don`t really do anything too crazy, but I will be doing stairs and two-foot drops. Also, are the inside of the rims drilled or not? i.e.I want them to be tubeless ready. Thanks for the help.

A: The first part of your question would be completely ridiculous even if you had included your weight and all the other pertinent information necessary to begin to help you with this, but, as you haven`t included any of that information, and it`s very late at night as I`m answering this, I`m going to go ahead and fill in some details and then attempt to answer it.

For the sake of argument, assume these variables:

The "it" in your sentence is Lemmy from Motorhead, who weighs (for the sake of this example) 92.08 kilograms.

If Lemmy, traveling at a velocity of 34.4kph toward an elevation with an overall height of 4.8 meters consisting of steps with tread measurements of 30cm each and numbering in total five, were to be riding your Unit (not bloody likely Lemmy`d be on another guy`s unit, but you know, hypothetically here) equipped with Industry 9 All Mountain single-speed wheels purchased at Speedgoat, and built by a guy named Steve at Industry 9 on a Tuesday with high humidity and consisting of a rigid bicycle frame and fork manufactured of a steel-based alloy consisting of 0.31% carbon, 0.6% manganese, 0.9% chromium, 0.2% molybdenum, 0.04% phosphorus, 0.04% sulfur, and 0.3% silicon and welded with appropriate rod, not exceeding recommended temperatures, wearing an 859g fur costume depicting the character "Ren" from the Ren & Stimpy cartoon show and the 294g habit of a nun as protective headgear, were to impact said elevation in a body position that placed 43.4% of his weight forward of the bicycle`s bottom-bracket shell, and 56.6% of his weight behind the center of the bicycle`s bottom-bracket shell, I would estimate that the answer, using your system of 1-10, would be 6.

Obviously, though, the details matter.

Seriously, you are in danger of becoming lost in a wilderness somewhere between Mountain Bike Action and reality, and we must act quickly to save you! First, you need to experiment with tubeless setups about as much as you need to try snorkeling with that Kona. There is no consistently reliable tubeless system for 29er use (so, no, the i9 wheels aren`t made for tubeless) and conversions are strictly for the 145lb racer geek riding in a well groomed area--preferably indoors (see previous blogs about this). You do not appear to be said scrawny racer-boy, have roached at least one wheel already (albeit a factory-built wheel that wasn`t very strong), and do not want to experiment with lower air pressures. Did you know you can pinch flat your tire with no tubes in it? How about ripping it right off the rim when cornering? Then there`s the delirious joy of the burp, when a rock, impact, or just a corner rolls the edge of your tire just enough to send a delicate spray of liquid latex into the face of the guy behind you (not the bad part yet) and instantly drop your tire pressure down to a rock-crawly 5psi (the bad part).

So stick with tubes for now, and, if durability is your primary goal, get some Chris King hubs laced with 14/15 spokes and brass nipples (not alloy), 3-cross all around, to Sun Rhyno Lite 36-hole rims. You can build them in our Wheelbuilder.

That`s durable. But please also type "industry 9" into our blog`s search and you`ll see that I`m using these i9s on my rigid 29er single, and they kick ass. Ample rock garden use, and I`m 205lbs. Do I think you`ll bust them? I have absolutely no idea what you`re capable of, but are the i9s solid wheels based on what we can tell so far? Yep.


On Monday I cycled to Edinburgh and then back to Glasgow, on my trusty road rat. For the most part I used the National Cycling Network route 75. I have had a mixed time with the Sustrans routes. They make for interesting rides for the most part, and offer a good guide for long distance commuting (I had a *big* timbuk 2 of stuff to take with me and bring back) but they are exasperating sometimes too.

I lost the route a total of 5 times. Of these, I was able to re-find the route 3 times. Unfortunately, when it really mattered, after 9+ hours of riding with a heavy bag, on a 48:18 into the teeth of a very strong headwind (the weather was 'challenging' on Monday to say the least: the reason I had not run to the hills...) and I had been riding (with no lights as I had forgotten them) for 4 hours in total darkness.

It was very pleasant riding past Hillend Loch with a full moon, and then as I came into Airdrie, bam, the route came out onto a road in a new development of housing and it just disappeared. Obviously I didn't want to do the last 15+ miles on busy dual carriageways, in the heavy rain, with a gusting strong headwind and a heavy bag and no lights, so I spent 30mins looking for the route. I went down every side street and did several laps of the area looking for where it restarted. Nope.


Of course, if I had a route guide it might have helped. But I'm not stupid, its should have been slightly more obvious where it went. Ach well...

11 hours on the bike: 120+ miles with the first 60 taking 3.5 hours and the rest, well, the rest. Yep, it was a strong wind.

Monday, November 27, 2006

S m all

It is amazing how incredibly small things can have a much bigger impact. The butterfly effect? maybe...

Or maybe it is simply because we are all so used to things working well, and therefore being inconspicuous, that when they *don't* work, we sit up and take notice.

Either way.

Went for a ride today. Classic Scottish, high winds, very wet under tyre, rocks, roots, waterfall crossings on small shelves, Loch side beautiful...

Also was riding the indyfab, and (no sniggering now) the front brake wasn't up to scratch. it felt for all the world like there was some contamination in the cables. After the amount of effort I put in to get those cables routed and sealed I was a bit pissed off. Still, I reasoned, there may be a simple and easily remediable solutions. And so there was....

It transpires that the inner cable 'sleeve', which I had cut at an angle in order to thread it through the stainless steel conduit and the Avid BB7 body, was protruding by around half a millimeter out of the tiny rubber 'boot' at the bottom of the cable stop on the BB7 casting.

When I actuated the brake, the rubber slightly compressed and the angular cut meant that the rubber pushed directly against the cable as it slid through the sleeve. the more I pulled the brake lever, the more friction.

So, I trimmed the sleeve to a straight cut, replaced the rubber booty and BAM! brakes are 100% again.

That just goes to show...take care of the pennies and the pounds look after themselves, or something....

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Seven morphed

While I'm about it, this is the current incarnation of my is doing duty at the moment as a cross bike. Singled with a 38:18, and a hotch potch of stuff in order to make 700c wheels work on a 26" frame. It was a custom geometry bike built around an 80mm travel fork, but it works nicely with my Rick Hunter brazed 5 piece 440mm a-c gem of a fork and the ever-so-useful Paul brake combo...quick steering, very fast and excellent power transfer.

Growing a moustache

Recently I sold a 94 Kona kilauea and bought a Cotic Roadrat. The main reason was my growing love of 700c wheels.

Initially, I had a set of flat bars and a long-ish (Steelman) stem on it.

Then I added bar ends, as I am so used to my Jones bars, the 'elbows out' position afforded by flat bars is now uncomfortable.

The Jones bars are far too po$h to use on a town bike, so I picked up some nitto moustache bars.

Here's the results:

Monday, November 20, 2006


One of the difficult things about using Jones bars is attaching a race number to your bars. This may infact be the *only* difficult thing about Jones bars, apart from the fact they ruin you for other bars.
I have been messing about in my 'garage' for a bit. tidying up, throwing rubbish away, sweeping and putting up hundreds of butchers hooks on metal tubing attached to the shelving in there with screw in circular fittings. This allows me to hang up everything I need to and then some. Bags, both Timbuk2 and ruck sacks, tools, dry bags, even stem and handlebar combo's that are waiting to be used again.
Almost immediately I started clearing things up a bit, I found a rear reflector bracket. One of those generic kind you find on 99% of bikes sold these days. It has an adjustable reflector on an 'elbow' and a circular bracket for grappling whatever frame tube is nearest. The bolts are cheesy cross-head and the nuts thin and recessed in hexagonal, err, recesses.
So - I sat there looking at it thinking it really needs to get binned, but something clicked in my head. Maybe, just maybe I could find a good use for it.
I checked things out and found that, yes, with a little strip of rubber inbetween the bracket and the Jones 25.4mm 'middle' tube, I was able to orientate the adjustable elbow section (once I had removed the reflector) in such a way that 2 holes pointed directly forwards.
After replacing the cheesy bolts with decent M5 allen key bolts, and the thin nuts with nylocs, I had a 'bodge' part.
The next stage is to utilise the 2 forward facing holes and some wire to allow a relatively rigid number plate holding structure. It will be light, re-usable and most importantly it will mean I never have to zip-tie a number to my cables and race in fear of it catching the front tyre, rubbing all race or worse getting trapped between the tyre and the fork (and yes, in a strong wind, that did indeed happen to me once).
All good. Finished pictures when it is finished.


The Middle East.
Oil running out.
Ex KGB agents being poisoned with Thalium.
Muslim persecution.
The West's Leaders a laughing stock.
Public Opinion ignored.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dock cross

Just back from Rosyth docks cross race. Great course shimmied around an area of waste ground, car park and green belt. Winding slimey off camber singletrack and 2 steep climbs. Excellent stuff. Its always so good to ride in the least expected places and find it to be gruelling and fun all at the same time.

The race started very fast with a road flat and climb linking us all into the course. Obviously this favoured a geared rider and the Savalas Players were behind a morass of racers. The next section was the technical singletrack, which was obviously a challenge to some as there were men down everywhere. A few bursts of speed had me sitting in 14th or so, with Chris and Jac not far behind. The carpark and waste section ended in a set of steps, that if you timed well, you could just ride the left side of the steps, preventing a dismount and run - far faster.

From here the course climbed to it's highpoint through trees before a winding descent to the car park again. This was obviously a good spot to rev up and pass riders before the singletrack - where it was very difficult to pass. This I managed on a couple of occasions and after a relatively strong mid race (for me) I was up in tenth. I had lost touch with Chris who was suffering on his 32:18 on the relatively flat and fast course. Jac was leading the ladies, despite feeling a little under the weather.

My choice of the Seven with a 38:18 was paying dividends in that I was able to spin fast enough to not get dropped on the road section. Enjoying the swoopy technical stuff, and being au fait with the roots leaves and off camber corners allowed me to sit behind others and pressurise them before quick sprints to gap them. It worked well, and soon enough I was up in 8th.

At this point with around 10 minutes to go I caught the 7th placed rider, and sat on his wheel as he was racing cannily and I could not find the power for a pass. 2 laps whisked by and then the bell. Still I was sat behind and really needed a mistake on his behalf to make the pass, but it was not to be.

At the end there was a little confusion regarding the placings, and I'm still unclear whether I was 7th or 8th. Chris was a little back, but smiling since he had regained his jacket (it was so very very cold) and Jac took the win.

Best heckle goes to stalwart support Player Marty with 'eye of the tiger, bring it home'.

See naegears pics.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

IF update

So how is it going? In short, so far, so good. Several good long rides, in conditions varying from deep mud, to wet sandy grit to moist loam. No mechanical issues (which is nice) and no odd quirks.

The steering is gorgeous. Really, really confidence inspiring in technical situations and at speed. It feels light and maneuverable without being in any way skittish. The ride in general is very forgiving. The Moots post does the job it was meant to and flexes perceptibly, soaking up chatter and bumps. The frame itself is also very compliant in the way that good ti frames seem to be.

The parts are also performing well. The magmaa saddle is the most comfortable I have used. A real find. The stem hasn't slipped (yet), making it considerably less of a pain than the wedge type. The rims do seem flexable. Probably not surprising given the weight and width. But no issues with coming out of true and the softness is probably a virtue given the full rigid chassis.

DT - the best. That's all. The brakes are superb, still light and very responsive with good modulation. With the longer 2 1/2 finger levers on the Paul brakes the system is a quantum improvement over the RoShamBo brakes. The fork. Ah yes, the fork.

I'll tell you no lies: I have never trusted Pace stuff particularly. I think because I have witnessed several of their forks being less than durable. And, of course, there is that old bugbear of the British Engineering thing. But: it rocks. Light, comfortable, excellent tracking and looking good. Time will tell..., but so far I feel misguided at least on the rigid fork.

It is a very, very good bike. As it should be, but I am privileged to have it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Auchentoshan cross

The Auchentoshan cross event came and went this last Sunday. It was wet, it was windy, it was dark and I was liquid burping tequila. The tequila in question was provided the night prior by my very lovely friend G funk savalas. He happens to have a bottle of competition standard, single village tequila. It is beautiful, rich, sipping tequila totally removed from the rubbish used for slamming. Beautiful it may be, but it isn't the best being burped up on a start line all too early having forcibly ejected myself from my kipsack.

Bang! off we go, to the woeful tunes and Jammie Johnson, the ever ruddy MC, and for once I got a so-so start. Chris on his amazing brown humu kona cruiser cross beast, Jac, going for gold, and Dave rocking the full rigid rig were right there too.

We zipped around the super, if muddy, course and the 20m run up was as hard as it ever is. A nice addition to the course was the double gates, a fluid dismount leap and remount style was rewarded.

The rain battered down mid race but relented as we closed, with poor Chris puncturing on his last lap. Odd given the shear girth of his cruiser beast tyres, and more than a pain in the deep mud he rode it in on floppy rubber. Jac snatched the second place, which must leave her well up in the overalls, and Dave whipped in to finish his first cross race in some style.

All good.


Anyone who knows me will know that I love bitter. Bitter beer is the best. IPA is probably my favourite of the style. Created tosurvive the long voyage from Britain to India, IPA has a particularly high concentration of Hops added. This is the preservative for most modern beers (some fruits and other odd things such as heather have been used in the dim and distant past).

Goose Island IPA is new to me, but having enjoyed their Honkers Ale i was definately keen to try it.

Summary: recommended.
Detail: 5.9% ~ relatively strong compare to most UK IPA's but not unsettlingly so.
Colour: deep, rich and pleasing.
Heft: pretty strong in any quantity for a school night or afternoon, perfect evening beer.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Swiped from Kelvin on the other place

Futura 2000: the name conjures beautiful abstract paintings, odd, spikey alien lobster-clawed figures, record covers for Mo Wax, and Maharashi. An excellent fix for the addict.

Mid term

Interesting results in the Mid term's in America. What can it mean? What is in the near future? Does this reprasent the masses voice in any way? or is it just politics?

Who knows: but I know my ears have perked up to the sound of change...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

One of those days

Met my brah chris in Aviemore this morning with a view to checking out some trails I found the other day. The sun was shining as I drove up the road, needing a stout cup of coffee. The clouds were ripping across the sky which was corn flower blue. We met in the Mountain Cafe and indulged in the well brewed joe available there. After a brief natter, we hit the trails - it is all too easy to get too comfortable in the Cafe and disappear the whole day.

I'm not sure I could put a figure to it, but my suspicion is that there are very few really world class days (as in *whole* days) riding in the average riders life. This was definitely one of mine.

Everywhere we looked there were singletrack trails, firm, slightly sandy and covered in pine needles snaking off between the trees. Every one is a peach.

Nestled back in the Mountain Cafe, hoovering more coffee and lamb and mint burgers, I don't think the smile slipped for more than a few seconds...

Blessed days.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A different viewpoint

This is a dude in Aviemore. He can ride a bike...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chris Cross

First cross race of the season for me yesterday. Mugdock Park. My Mum tells me it was a seat of Graham of Monteith (my Tartan ) so it was clearly important to do the ancestors well.

As such we had the Telly Savalas Overalls on, (Chris went for a couple of years later in the TSPC wardrobe with Gillette Advert 70's Sportswear tm) did 10 spins (standing with arms above head looking at hands) on the start line and after the dizziness settled hit the course dead f'n last.

We raged, we stormed, we careered. Through the mud, over roots and up walls. Results soon, but it was worth it for the beer hand ups alone.

See more on Singlespeedwidow's flickr, and check out Rose...*just* as sweet as mummy and daddy.


So the Stern report is almost done. Interesting to see if anything changes from this one. Howard Stern is a King Poobah economist. In essence, his report looks at whether it is *economically* viable to reduce global atmospheric pollution. The answer (will be) a resounding yes if the journalists who have seen the summarised pre-release are correct. In short it would cost 1% GDP of he UK to stop a catastrophic change equivalent to a great depression, or a world war. This is suggested to be equivalent to a drop in GDP of over 20%.

So what do you think will happen? posturing and waffle? or some actual action ?
The Government have appointed Al Gore, hot on the heals of An inconvenient Truth, as an advisor. Difficult to draw conclusions here, as Ol' Al may well be posturing to further a future political stand, and Gordon Brown may well be doing the same...

Time will tell. But it must be noted time cannot be turned back. Choices taken now will affect the future, our children and the life sustaining properties of this planet.

Time to think carefully then.

Friday, October 27, 2006

No kon

Spent an hour last night re-cabling the RoShamBo to get it ready for cross. I tried originally to clean and re-use the original nokons, that have been on there since errrr, well last April. No go. Still crappy performance.

So a new lot went on...I'll admit it is a pain in the arse putting nokon together, and getting it right, but once on it really is good stuff. You might also notice that despite good, wet, muddy and gritty Scottish weather, they last for a while too...

Next, mount up the 37c twister tyres and pump up to 290 psi...First cross of the season for me is Sunday at Mugdock. The TSPC will be in effect...paint us white, give us beer hand ups, and get ready to spin...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

La buena vida

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Negra Modelo with lime...takes me back to La Buena Vida... just polished off some excellent pico de gallo (my wife makes a mean salsa), soft flour tortillas with a juicy, griddled that off with some sport peppers and I'm there...

Back in black


Been away, in London. Seeing a man about a head. Well, two men actually.

What was broken is fixed, and that means more. More fun, more time, more riding, more working, more home improvements. Just more.

What else? Went for a ride with Biff as he passed through Edinburgh this morning. It started in the dark, involved slipping and sliding over and around rocks and roots in the dark and wet. It ended with one of the funniest bike related moments of my life. Ever, so much so that I am not going to mention it here, just yet...we'll see where it all goes.

What I will say is I need to true up my front wheel, fix a puncture, wash my breeks and remember that size, sometimes is everything. Or call it volume, whatever.

What else? 26" town bike I think has seen it's day. Investigating this and this...We'll see, but do they have to be that short? Of course they will be stripped bare and modified to make a fast simple, light and singlespeed townie (judicious use of a file may be required...) for use and abuse over winter...any thoughts?

If anyone is interested in a '94 tange concept prestige kona, 18" painted and stickered proper in british racing green (with slightly annoying rear drops...more info on request) or a super dooper dahon vitesse folder stickered up something rotten, lemme know...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where does one stop

For North Korea? who knows. I was disappointed to hear about the nuclear testing, even if it may have been a false alarm if the initial blast didn't start the chain reaction. Personally i just think it is yet another bad sign for the human race. Another nail in the coffin.

On a brighter note, as part of my learning process for the new bike, I put some information together about the outboard bearing cranks. Blackspire are making replacement rings for xtr m960 cranks. Got to be good compared to the crap that's on there when you buy them. They come as singlespeed or geared. Magic.

Next. It can also be argued that the current crop of outboard bearing cranks have less than durable bearings and seals. Peter Verdone, who seems to be really pretty bright at this sort of thing, paints a bleak picture. It is interesting and it does make me wonder if Race Face are throwing bad money after terrible money with the x type bottom brackets (lets face it, isis was a debacle). Shimano don't come out much better, *but* Phil Wood to the rescue! A new tool to fit their new bearings and as ever, the tool is worth owning just for the classic Phil attention to detail and beautiful shineyness. I will be investing when the time comes.

Lastly, fitting correctly is important with *any* bicycle component. So when you are tensioning the bearings on m960, consider using the Park Tool BBT-9. This has a fitting for a torque wrench in order to do it properly. See the Park website for details. I feel you can never do yourself a disservice if you invest in decent tools.


Congratulations to singlespeeder Team Dicky on becoming the singlespeed worlds 24 hour racing champ. Rock on.

Soon, once thoughts gathered and scatter brain has settled: riding a Jones one; riding a TiF; other randomness.

And if you haven't already get yourself the OuTcAsT interbike sheet...

Monday, October 09, 2006


My new bike is a tractor. All 'roll over stuff, and faster than you'd expect'. Got it together this morning and popped out for a 5 hour shake down...saddle comfy and now horizontal (oops!), disc brakes scrubbed in, reach perfect (71.7cm if you want to know), bar angle magic, bottom bracket rotated for a good position over the pedals (way further back than you might guess). Go.

First impressions:
a) disc brakes rawk.
b) wide rims rawk.
c) good ti frames (utilising the properties of the metal) rawk.
d) the tractor likes to fly. jumpin' and pumpin' off everything. Stoorie Brae acted as a the initial site of riding (as ever) and I felt 100% comfortable hitting all the slidey, rocky, steep and nasty stuff straight away.
e) the steering geometry is noticeably different from the RoShamBo. Better I think. It feels lighter to steer, and not in any way slow, but it is very obvious the front wheel is further out in front of me.
f) I don't know how If did it, but this bike rips around tight turns. Especially obvious when there is a tree at the apex you are trying to miss...Reminiscent of Biff's Jones. There must be something more to this...hmm.
g) *Comfort* over the distance. It wasn't a massive ride today, but zero feeling of being vibrated by the trail, which in places was pretty buzzy and rocky.

So, yes I like it. A lot. I suspect this may well be the best realisation of everything I have learned, ridden and asked about so far. And rightly so! it has been a pretty decent investment both financially and in terms of effort and time!

So: stoked. Big rides and races and everything. Bring it on. The tractor is good to go.

See here for more.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Aviemore cross country

Pictures, courtesy of trina, of the Aviemore SXC race and some others...showcasing everything that is beautiful. Oh, and me in a doorway. The new Jones moded xtr m960's are on the IF. should get a shake down ride manana. More pics then. Meanwhile, clicky for biggee...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Photo credit

The credit for the Moots and the Eriksen photo is twentynineinches
who I think have done some really nice photos if you like the 29"er thing....def-o worth a look..

In terms of those bikes, I am particularly interested in the Eriksen uses headset top caps to clamp the rails, so I'm thinking it must use some sort of sideways binding mechanism on the rails...hmmmmmmmm.

Out with the old, in with the new...

Monday, October 02, 2006

..trina breaks out the big gun






Better pics to follow....

More routing

Well, today led to a little more fettling of the brake cable routing. It might seem pedantic but I am very keen that the brakes work well. Really, really well. See, if they don't, I'll be wondering why I didn't get hydraulic brakes. There are 3 reasons. One: Paul Price. Two: I don't fancy ripping a hydraulic hose asunder in the Highlands. Three: ease of work for me. So, you can see, there is a lot 'riding' (bwahahahahahahaha!) on the brakes working well and for a long time.

Anyways, today was for the Nokon sections. I had not quite decided on how I was going to route the cable past the seat tube. Initially I went right, then I went left. The latter is better in every way. I used a combination of small and large segments of Nokon cable with 2 sections I can split on the top tube for lubing (if you have never used Boeshield, find some and use, frequently, for your cable brakes). The front brake goes from Nokon with shrink wrap next to the lever (to prevent kinking, which I have had on the RoShamBo a fair amount, to the stage that the inner has split now) then a run of Nokon to another section shrink wrapped immediately prior to an Avis link pipe onto the Full Metal Jacket. This is kept in place by the funny loop the FMJ comes with and I used a Snap On tube bender to achieve a curve so that the FMJ can directly go to the Avid BB7 caliper. I revised the curve after reviewing the pics I have collected of Jeff Jones built bikes (I am not too proud to admit I keep an archive of these pics for just such occasions....bloody OCD). It feels like there is no cable friction whatsoever.

The rear is more complicated. Again a shrink wrapped Nokon section, then free, then shrink wrapped again to prevent head tube scuffing. Then I used an alloy cable stop so I didn't have to run outer along the top tube. All I had to do was pop out the inner guide tube they were sold with and run the Nokon inner straight through. This was repeated at the rear, then I initially routed around the right side of the seat tube, but changed to the left to get a smoother line.

The join between the last section of FMJ, which has a 3d bend in it to run straight to the caliper, was done twice. Again the initial shrink wrap used the Avid supplied adhesive stuff which proved too stiff and led to a sharp cable bend. I used the shrink wrap (throughout) I obtained from Maplins (7mm, shrinks to half that minimum at 125degrees c....I used a hairdryer) and got a much better line.

I was pleased by the whole all I have to do is square away the rhythmical rubbing on the rear disc and wait for the cranks...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tube bender

So I managed to get the discs on (only getting a wee spot of grease on the rotor and pads ... sheesh, thank goodness for iso-propyl alcohol). I got the steerer of the Pace forks cut, and filed and a star fangled nut fitted and then using the king headset spacers, arrived at a good handlebar height.

From there it was all about the 3/16" stainless steel tubes and a tube bender. Photos will follow, but I currently have a nice run with one bend directly to the front caliper, awaiting the Nokon top section from brake lever. The rear was a bit more complex. There are 2 guides for hose on the left seatstay, so i had to employ an s bend at the bottom to route directly into the caliper and then a very slight bend at the top (at 90 degrees, to follow the angle of the seatstay as it moves toward the seat tube). This will then accept a small Nokon section from the rearward cable stop on the top tube, with cable and the Nokon liner until i use another Nokon loop at the front to the rear brake lever.

It should (a-ha-ha) all look neat and tidy and work powerfully and be relatively impervious to dirt ingress. Should be. I *may* have made the bends a bit tight, and as such the brakes *may* be a little stiff. Fingers crossed.

The only bit I'm pretty sure I am not happy with is the top section of the rear brakes s bend. It is a little angular, not smooth, gentle and radiused like I wanted. May alter it, we'll see.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Trina and myself visited family Bacon recently. A short hop on a plane and a skip on a train led us to the deep south of England and a beautiful day to sit with Ruth, Biff and the boys (William and Thomas) in their fantastic garden.

A major effort by W, T and me saw a successful ambush of the rest as they collected sloe berries for gin manufacture. Next we had a chance to sample some of Ruth's cookery. It's hard to describe, but when someone can cook, and I mean *cook*, it is a wonderful transcendence from simply eating. A passion for flavour, an innate sense of timing and texture with dish after dish. Truly inspiring.

We yabbered into the wee hours.

Next day saw a visit from a cross star and a man with a sheep with a mission. As the airports are still somewhat stuffed up following the seemingly forgotten chaos of a few weeks ago, I had not brought my own bike. Fortunately, Biff is both well endowed and generous in that department and as such I had a chance to spend some time riding a VooDoo Dambala using Pace RC31 forks and Biff's Jones One. I also had a small but informative time on an On One 29"er (ta Jenn).

I am going to return to Biff's Jones as it deserves an entry solely concentrating on its construction, finishing and ride characteristics. However, I shall refer to it in passing here.

When I started considering a new bike (which in fact was several months *before* purchasing the Kelly RoShamBo) a lot of effort was put into understanding steering geometry of bicycles. Not in an mtbr/Cloxxki style. In a scientific, known facts and proven builders' opinion sort-of-way.

One of the best things I read was the Zinn Bicycle Primer, where he discusses the stability of different geometries which yield the same trail. Previously, my misconception was that trail=trail=trail, and that it was 'god' when it came to working out how a bike would handle. This of course ignores the fact that a bike with a shallow head angle and high rake can have the same trail as one with the opposite. The handling will be different: one *must* be holistic.

If I had any complaints of the Kelly, it was that the front wheel had a tendency to 'tuck' when steering in steep (down) technical situations, usually in soft terrain. One can mimic this by holding the rear wheel up so the bike rests on the front, and tilting to the side. If the bike moves quickly to rotate the front wheel 'under' the imaginary rider, it will be quick/nervous in handling. If it moves more slowly, perhaps more stable, and if it doesn't really move, well, it will prolly feel that way on the trail. Knowwhatimean?

I was after 'the perfect balance': a nice trail number in the 70-80mm bracket (which seems to be about right for 29"ers, for me - the Kelly being 80.7mm) and stability not negating responsiveness in technical riding. A complex project, and one I am indebted to the internet postings of Mike Curiak for germinating.

The end result for me was a 71 degree head angle and 42 mm rake on the pace fork (yielding a trail of 79.9mm) and a rake of 45mm on the Black Sheep Ti fork (yielding a trail of 76.7mm). This will give me something to play with once the IF is built.

Rewind a little. I rode an On One 29"er and a VooDoo Dambala recently, as well as Biff's Jones One. Remember? what do you mean zzzzzzzz? right!

The On One felt stable but well mannered, long of limb and heavy (truth be told, but then it was a 'sensible' build) but settled and supportive (head angle 71 degree, trail 74.6mm as rake is 47mm, note the 18" frame has a 1 degree steeper head angle, making trail 67.9mm, the fork being 470mm length).

The Dambala actually required a good deal of bodily adaptation to ride through the twisting, buff singletrack adorning the South Downs. Both up and down, it required a great deal of weight over the bars for it to steer with the authority needed. It didn't seem to like leaning into turns as much as my Kelly for example. All this despite a head angle a mere 0.5 degree shallower(trail 79.9mm). All this shows the trail is but one thing. The front centre, ride height, bb height and chainstays must all be figured in...

The Jones? well, it rocked really. I haven't enjoyed riding a 26" wheel bike since I tried 29"ers, until now. A very, very special bike. It managed to be instantly familiar, without feeling too easy. It demanded work and speed, whilst rewarding calm, deliberate (and occasionally consequential) moves. In short it acted as a mirror for ones desires and skills. As such, it also acted as a natural foil to the others, in order to compare characteristics.

Some people maintain that you cannot tell the difference between 0.5 degrees here, a millimeter there. I disagree. I would say one can *adapt to these changes easily*, but should one? Depends if you have the time, inclination and admittedly money to throw at the issue.

For me, I just have my fingers crossed about the new one...

first pic is by singlespeedwidow, my beautiful wife.
second I nabbed from Simon Barnes, who has been taking truly epic shots this year...

Foo fighting

Back from a lovely week end in Aviemore. As some may know I wasn't exactly very well last week... seems to have mostly passed, but I am gled we got away at all. Managed to race albeit slowish...6th in masters which I can't complain about. The course was the classic Badaguish technical root and rock fest with one fire road climb per lap. As usual the technical sections were my strong point and allowed me to catch up each lap. This made up for being extremely wobbly (tho' not sick!) on the climbs. Marty raced too, despite having a almost sleepless night due to a noisy air conditioner. Resplendent on his new VooDoo and in pink Assos socks.

Thankyou to Susan and Trina (and new friend...) for supports.

The best aspect of the week end was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Aviemore. It really is a 'mountain resort' and the Mountain Cafe allows healthy calorie loading for enjoying the freshest air.

Trina and myself rode around Rothiemurchas Estate and enjoyed another beautiful day and fine views of Cairngorm on Monday. I *really* enjoyed riding this area with my wife. There doesn't seem to be anything that brings out the happiness of just being on a bike as much as sharing it with someone you love, in a place you love.

I had felt this recently on a ride with Chris and Jac in the Pentlands near Edinburgh. No rush, no training zones, no particular need to do a distance or 'make it back here'. Just pure enjoyment shared with the like-est of like minds.

In other news: well done to all the peeps who battled the 3 peaks. Jenn scored 3rd (!) and everyone else showed the warrior hearts to finish the race and smile.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Next up

My thoughts on riding a Jones 26"er, a VooDoo Dambala, and an On One 29"er...still percolating...

Perfect prep...

In *that way*, I seem to have developed a lurgy right before my only xc race for this year. At the moment I'm not sure I can even get out the house, let alone anything else. Hoping for a miraculous recovery but I doubt it...

Crank it

My new bike is going to have 175mm cranks. So what? Well, I have been using 177.5mm cranks exclusively for 4 years. I swapped by circumstance not design: in essence I couldn't find a cold forged 5 arm crank with a square taper in anything *but* 177.5mm, so I bought 3 and had done with it. I felt they helped for pushing the singlespeed up steeper hills, but otherwise no major difference. Afterall, they were only 2.5mm longer than 'usual'.

I revisited this decision several weeks ago, when getting new cranks for the IF. Having ridden my friend Biff's Jones, I was impressed with the stiffness, power transfer and looks of the Jones mod'ed xtr cranks. So what length?

It is oft quoted there was a tendency for the old school 29"er riders to use shorter cranks. Indeed, rumor has it Wes Williams wouldn't have anything to do with cranks longer than 170mm. Perhaps this is more applicable to geared bikes (for spinning the gear) But one could also look at the track riders using 160-165 cranks, and they don't hang about when it is time to transfer power to the wheels (and neither are they universally short of stature).

I ordered 175mm, and I am glad I did. A more prolonged ride on Biff's bike this last week end led me to believe I can feel no detrimental difference whatsoever. A post on mtbr got me thinking further and after reading Leonard Zinn's diatribe on crank length, how to measure it and the pros and cons of changing, I decided to go all bio-mechanical. Turns out with my femur length, I should be using 170mm cranks, whereas with inside leg measurement I should be using 176-180mm length cranks. So there we go. Conclusions will be drawn after a prolonged time on the IF.

(pic courtesy of Jeff Jones)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For those about to rock...

We salute you!

The 3 peaks is this week end...a bunch of my friends are riding , and I wish them all bon chance.

Marty and myself will be hammering in the Cairngorm at the Aviemore xc event. Should be great, though inclement weather is a possibility...

Now all I need to do is minimise the trail tools, pack some energy spooch and put my 'fast' legs on...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Just about there

A few more parts, that is all. After this week end, I also have a lot more confidence in the parts I have collected. The wider, more robust rims should offer a better tyre profile, and allow a more persuasive style in the rocks. The carbon fork doesn't flutter or feel flimsy despite it's lack of weight. The H bars have a shim to allow a slightly improved interface, and the Thomson x4 seems to hold a little better than the original.

So, wheels to build and cranks awaited. Then it is time to put it together...just in time to have a few rides before breaking out the mothballs, and hitting cross season? Then back out for a (solo?) Strathpuffer ...


Well, I hope you enjoyed Talk Like a Pirate Day. I did. If you had any issues, perhaps a refresher will see you right afore mi'night, me hearty. Arrrrrr.

Sitting comfortably?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


After using this blog a little, I have learned that there is an etiquette to 'borrowing' pictures. I should apologise for not doing this properly in the past. Now, though, I'm going to pinch a few pictures to show a few more bent top tube bikes. I just love 'em.

A recent thread on mtbr discussed dropped top tubes and a
further opinion piece was provided by g-ted. My thoughts are simple: with proper design and the luxury of custom, quality manufacture, if I have my druthers, I'll go for super sloping top tubes every day of the week. They increase standover, and allow added compliance from the seat pin. Also, it looks sweet.

First a baby blue bombshell from Quiring Cycles. This one is from J-Rad.

Scott Quiring is a bomber fast racer, who at one time raced for Slingshot bikes. His site is cool, and his bikes well worth a look.

The next belongs to a lady by the name of Shontell, a Willits Brand with dual curved top and down tubes for clearance of forks and standover. Typically beautiful Willits craftsmanship. If you ride or are interested in 29"ers, Wes Williams of Willits Brand is someone you should know about.


Have you seen the video news available on Velonews? Some are very interesting. I would recommend the bicycle fitting videos for Cesar Grajales with Todd Carver and Andy Pruitt at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Good stuff. Pruitt is just as obnoxious as he comes across in the Specialized literature, however the fit process they go through is informative, although you may not agree with it.

Anyone who pays any attention to how films are made will recognise the computer mapping of the body in order to measure things objectively (rather than by hairy eyeball) and assess the biomechanical position of the rider. But it is still fascinating. One can't help but wonder about one's own position-afterall don't we all secretly believe we are thwarted world class riders? You may very well just have to fit that new, in-line post afterall...

The other video that is of great interest is the interview with Allen Lim (for his extensive bio see the link). His relationship with Floyd Landis is well known: he describes himself as Floyd Landis' number puncher. His main area of interest seems to be power output, and its measurement and use for training. Some of the numbers discussed are a little easy to gloss over (during the stage to Morzine, Floyd put out 281 watts for 5 a little poking around and find out what an average athlete's power output is and you may just be as surprised as I was.) but he is clearly animated, intelligent and his thoughts may well be useful to those looking to train more seriously.

See Velonews here.



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In it to win it.

As is often said: to win it, you need to be in it. This can be applied to a lot of things but competition is paramount. For me, this means bike racing. Sometimes, I can't give my all during a race. Occasioanlly this is due to mechanical issues. During the last 5 races I have had (quick tot up) 9 punctures. Not a good average.

I was reading a blog belonging to a guy who has quite an impressive palmares. He has suffered numerous punctures over his last few races too. Dicky's minimal packing (amongst others) inspired me to drop the over-size pack and try to take a sensibly small set of tools, tubes and additional bunkum.

If you examine my recent experiences in the cold light of day, I dont think I have *particularly* suffered for carrying less kit. However, at the SSWC in Hellas, Stockholm, if I had carried the previous belt-and-braces CO2 and pump, as well as the old-me-2+ tubes, I would have been back in the game that bit sooner.

Does it make a *real* difference? Probably not: I'm unlikley to win after all. Does it bug me? Oh yes!.

I think the take home message is: consider this year another 'work in progress'. Every year (despite advancing age) I seem to do slightly better at the races. Mostly due to increased self-awareness in terms of preparation (fitness, food and fluid all playing their parts) and improved balance in the belt and braces equation.

Also I'd like to say a big G'day to Duncan, the real top fixed rider at SSWC (you there? hmmph, he's prolly off enjoying the Melbourne spring) for stopping to give me his pump before masterfully pedaling off into the distance.

pic lifted from Happy mtb forum poster.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


A little while ago now, I was talking to my friend Shaggy about this and that, mumbling and postulating. For some reason we got around to talking about Trimble mtb's. They were pretty wild back in the day. Sausage like spars of carbon fiber, with tiger stripes or polka dots.

I had a particular penchant for these frames and when I found out last year or so that Trimble might be back in the game, I asked about the possibility of a 29"er frame.

Due to some sort of disagreement between managers and investors and perhaps Brent Trimble and other project managers, Trimble is still a a name from the past.

The 29"er? well, it almost happened. Indeed, it looked like it had a lot of potential in terms of stand over, and clearance issues:

If you want to see more Trimbles, and get a little background info on these or any vintage bikes, set your main sail and take a heading for here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Coming soon!

Some words on 'Flying Scotsman' a film about which my friend Marty gifted Johnny Lee the finish. Also, I acquired a set of 'Transitions' Oakleys. So far so good. More soon.

Specialized movies

Well worth a look, especially the faux cop chase...yo! 5-oh!

Wingnut and others...

This year has seen an almost total change in kit. The mileage count is up as is the distance at any one sitting, so this has been a fine balance between known devil and new and improved.

First up. Maxxis Ignitors. There you go.

Second up, Pearl Izumi. The welded seam shorts (err, microsensor 3d pro bibs, i think) are very comfortable indeed right from the first ride. they seem to sit well, with no chafing or wrunkling (despite some visible bunching of the flat seams with movement) and so far have been very durable. Choice number one.

The other Pearl Izumi product that has been very impressive is the Gel Vent glove. Full finger, soft, black (phew!) with a rubbery cross hatched padded area over the 3 pressure points of the palm. Excellent.

Last for today: Wingnut Assault. A pack that is both small and simple, made form sail cloth for light weight, water shedding and toughness, with 2 small zippered pockets left and right and a main entry zip for bladder (not included) stowing and pump-getting. The pack has one feature that sets it apart from the rest. It is designed to sit over the lumbar spine. The first time I used it? The wilderness 101. It would have been a bummer if it didn't work well, and comfortably. It did. Main feature, light weight so less cantilevered weight, and excellent ability to reach snacks from the side pockets. It has an integral whistle at the sternum strap and at 1.5l capacity the fluid volume with 2 big bottles is perfect for me.

One seldom used but very welcome feature is the lack of movement in steep, technical challenging, terrain. Thumping into yer lid here is a bad way for yer pack to behave.