Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Mexico beckons. In less than a week we will be sitting on a beach somewhere, heuvos rancheros washed down with a coffee, considering a wee swim with some fish. Perhaps a visit to a Mayan ruin in the afternoon before some tequila and a chili fuelled meal in the late evening sun.

Can't wait...

Monday, January 30, 2006


Managed to ride for nearly 4 hours this week end. Up north, so it was cold. How cold? Well, for the first time ever in my life, when I descended the moisture on my hair and on my wool top froze solid. There was a lot of very low cloud and this led to a damp atmosphere. So, after about 2 hours I had a crunchy carapace. It was at this point that I began to feel really cold.

Conundrum: ride faster to get the blood pumping; or ride slower so there is less cooling from wind-chill.

It was a toughee due to this. I was cold for several hours afterwards, and my fingertips still don't feel right, despite the winter gloves I had on.

Soup and a wee dram seemed to help.

However, it did act as a bit of a wake-up call. Having entered some endurance races for the summer, I am in need of a plan. As with so many folk my age, I seem to have been bitten by the bug to race and race harder over the last couple of years. So far, I am improving. But it is hard to relate this to anything other than less alcohol, a bigger gear and a 29"er.

My plan is to make a training program of sorts. I have always believed in looking fairly closely at the signals your body gives you during exercise. Well, there was one disastrous year where I thought I could 'push through' regardless.

My usual riding practice is to keep up 4+ hour rides through the dark months and try to get a little technical riding in on the wet slimey muddy stuff in order to build confidence and refresh technique and skills. Then, as summer approaches start ramping up the mileage and ease down prior to the 'enduro season'. By the time I have completed a few races, that is really pretty much all I am doing, apart from running inbetween.

This year, I seem to have really bottomed out over winter, so I feel the need to concentrate on building some 'base' over late winter early spring in a fairly structured way. Why you ask?

Well, I want to win a race, any race. I want to do well in a 24 hour solo. I want to feel like I was able to race for the whole time in my first 100mile race.

There we go...updates to follow.

Cold yet?

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Product review time. When I got the Ro Sham Bo, it was pretty hard to set up the rear brake cable as the stop at the front of the bike is tight in to the headtube on the left side of the bike. This is clearly for the American crowd who favour the left brake-front/rear-right thing.

As a result of some head scratching I ended up parting with the cash for Nokon brake cables. Ostensibly a plastic tube in which the cable runs from lever to caliper, with articulating metal sections for the lever to frame/frame to caliper bits.

They cost a lot more than even an XTR cable set, so they need to work well to justify the costs. Do they?

Oh yes. Not only can you lose the noodle on v-brakes, they can operate smoothly in a very tight radius. This not only allows neater routing of the cable, it allows them to work considerably smoother too. In terms of mud resistance, well, I have had my set on for 10 months now. Ridden through every type of gloop and muck. I have never washed this bike. It has been rained on, frozen and generally given some tough love. It is only now I need to put a little oil in the cables as the resistance is noticeably increased. Power is enhanced because the metal sections do not compress even a little bit. They creak a little when muddy though.

Go get some.

I'll report back next year.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Whilst riding recently in a fairly well used area, complete with a network of man made trails, I happened upon a dark, loamy sliver of a trail. I followed it through a tree break for a few yards. This led me to a junction with another trail. Clearly for bikes. Steep, slick as snot, roots, rocks, planks with chicken wire and precious little trail-sanitation. So of course I followed it to the top and rode down. Sort of. I slipped, scraped banged balanced, clenched and careered down. I landed on my head and may have broken my helmet. I slammed into the back of the saddle. I twisted and wrestled the bars relentlessly.

And, I got to the bottom.

Wow. Its been a while since I have ridden a trail like that. No prisoners taken. Sometimes you need trails like that. The sort that takes commitment to commence and if you can make them every time there is a major problem with your terrain.

I'll sleep easy tonight.


The website (see rinky dink links) has some more photos and videos. Go to it...

This weekend...

Brought to you by Shrigley, The Datsuns, Little Creatures and The Cramps

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Jones Sweetness


I have had a headache for 2 days solid. No reason. So I decide I must act today. 2 glasses of Gatorade, all better.

Solid stuff, Gatorade. Saved my life many times. Recommendo.

Press & Journal

Tuesday, January 17, 2006



5 arm cranks are better in my opinion: don't know why.

So, John was using Ultegra cranks with his (ulp) 39:16 fixed at the Strathpuffer.

Why can't I use the compact version which takes a 34 tooth ring?



Ok. Random recollections of the Strathpuffer.

1) The scenery: beautiful, no other word.
2) Having a blether with some locals and some racers in the Achtily hotel bar. Guiness is for champions.
3) Some wonderful, weird, whimsical and wandering chat. Lovely people, some I haven't seen in too long. So rejuvenating.
4) A very cold night. Calvin Klein's are *not* thermally efficient.
5) A very robust hangover.
6) Getting out of my kip sack at 9.15am with the race commencing at 10am. I still have to put my bike together and put riding clothes on etc etc.
7) Rocking the Contin singletrack, between the Caledonian pine, rocks and mud. Oh, and ice.
8) The team working supremely. A group who have often ridden together but never as one team gelling into a super-efficient monster of a singlespeed animal (albeit slightly slowed by the effects of a night on the finest mix of hops, mash and water).
9) Such an early dusk.
10) The cold. That's it, just the cold.
11) Hand-overs with perennially cheerful team mates, then basking in the warmth of the team camper van.
12) The long, long night.
13) How quietly hypothermia creeps up on you.
14) 3 hours of perfect sleep wrapped in wool and Marmot's finest.
15) Nicks' tree wrestling antics.
16) John's unfortunate pull with a nagging knee injury. He displayed the strength you need to turn away and do the 'live for the next day' thing despite an overwhelming talent for knocking out supreme efforts in the 24 hour races.
17) Phil managing (with all grace and humour intact) to put up with the team of 4, drinking and laughing their way around the clock, whilst knocking out some supreme lap times and looking so sweet with his Assos body. His first 24 solo and could it have been any harder? Respect.
18) Chris and Dave doing what they have always done: cared for everyone on the team with endless support, cups of coffee and smiles: all whilst tapping out consistent 45 minute laps no matter the time of day and conditions.
19) Nicks' final lap which sent me out with 2 mins to go. I couldn't have been more stoked than at that moment.
20) Pushing a 40minute last lap out despite the gloop and raging through the trees and rocks one last time. The final singletrack saw me 'fondling the edge' in a way I have not managed since the xc race in Aviemore earlier this year. BUZZ.
21) Hugs.

It ripped.

See the photos on 32sixteen.com and Strathpuffer's site for some ideas as to the visuals.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Frayed edges

Back from Strathpuffer, the first midwinter 24 hour race in Scotland.

True to initial guesses, it was hard, muddy, dark and very, very cold. Also true to initial hopes it was fantastic. Our squad consisted of Uncle Nick, Chris, Dave and myself. There was also John on solo fixed and Phil on solo 29"er.

Mixed bag. The team of four went well, John was plagued with knee pain and Phil was quite frankly astonishing.

There will be time for a full write up soon, with the possibility of some pics too.

In the meantime, the clarion call of many a 24 hour racer is being sounded: food! sleep! warmth!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Seeing as it merits a wikipedia entry (oh yes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Speed_World_Championship) you'd better pencil in Stockholm for '06. Most likely 18-19th August ish....see you there?

(and yes, I do have an original...)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Steal is real, ti is why

Ice, ice baby

It is true that some things you miss most acutely when they are gone. Love, health, friends, water and of course fitness and traction.

Today I went for a ride. Woo hoo. Don't laugh. I *know* this is a bike blog, and I also know it has precious little riding in it at the moment. So, today's ride was pretty special given it was the first time I have touched a bike in 4 weeks +. Especially when I am attending the Strathpuffer next week. A 24 hour race in the far north of Scotland, with 17 hours of darkness is nowhere near the best place to do a 'first ride for a while'. This is true in terms of both form and bicycle function.

So a sort of physical and kit shakedown today. Went to Ae forest in southern Scotland. From the weather at www.meto.gov.uk, it looked like the place least likely to get enveloped in the not-so-loving embrace of the weather front heralding the more 'mild' (i.e. 'wet') weather.

I was right about that.

I also suspected my form would be in bits. Yup, also.

Kit, well, after nearly a year on the same set up I wasn't expecting any major hookups. True. Brake pads are my only mental note, and to take a spare chainring (time to break out the very pretty Boone ti ring?) to the race.

The riding: I haven't ridden at Ae for more years than I care and/or could remember. The trails have been transformed in that '7 Stanes' way (this time def-o for the best) and it is more of the man-made stuff for the most part. Nice red earth, pretty grippy. Good technical sections, not yet ripped up by the disc brake, 4 inch brigade. Also a fair share of fire road, dank wooded trails and fun steeps with big rocks.

Oh, and ice. This is where the traction left me. Picture me confidently rolling at moderate speed down a 30 degree trail, towards a 2 m wide bridge across a river in pretty good spate. Then picture the smattering of ice. Imagine the way flame paint jobs can be used to fade one colour into the next on all manner of muscle-vehicles. See the ice sheets widen, gently licking at my tyres. Then picture me deciding that although the smart move is to not use the brakes, the river and the bridge, coupled with the consequences of increased speed on crashing, led to the inevitable.

Bang, shin/pedal interaction. Rock, fork scrape and a big smile. Well, I didn't go a- over-t.

Overall, nice to be out. Very muddy, long drive for 2 hours riding, form abysmal. Trails pretty good. Pretty stoked feeling. Och, well. In balance, worth it.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

More on the 7 drops

Sweet, eh? These are the Rohloff type ones. There has been some whining over on mtbr about how they "may not be strong enough". Um, ok...whatever.

Nice to see the option, but the EBB looks cleaner in my opinion.

Am I any closer to deciding on the next one? Nope, but that's half the fun, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Looks like modular drops are going to be the next 'pink'.

Seven's version looks clean, but I still feel the sliders lack in the aesthetics department.

1st sweet bike of the year

See what all the fuss is about:

New year

Happy new year everyone. I hope it was a good Hogmanay. Pretty tired here after a few days away in Ardnamurchan, in the Highlands. Weekends theme was cartoon characters and trina and myself were thing 1 and thing 2. Photos may be posted soon, we'll see. Meanwhile a lot of food and drink were consumed. Some running and a little bouldering, but fitness is far from peak.

Still a week or so until the first race of the year. Hmm.