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.

SSWC 06 video

Well worth a look. This guy has serious talent - one man and one camera!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Too much life, too little vicariousness

First pics of my IF (many thanks to Tim @ for the frame and my lovely wife for the photos). It is spectacular, as you'd expect .

Just back from the SSWC in Stockholm. Pics and thoughts to come. The news is: Scotland 07.

Still needing to jot down some thoughts on equipment used this year. Highlights include the Wingnut Assault, and Pearl Izumi Gel Gloves.

As far as big races, that is me done for the year. Hoping for some extended overnight rides and some slow, technical, pine scented days.

Also look out for a tyre review on

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yin & Yang

My second solo 24 hr attempt was sort of aborted. We all arrived at Catton Park in beautiful dusty, sunny, warm conditions. Race commenced after a catch up (good to see Jessica over here, and Chipps hauled away from his desk) and a few beers. My plan was to go fast and hard from the start, get very tired then hold on. The idea behind this was:
I know I can do the 24 hrs riding
I am not going to get faster towards the end
It would give me a good idea of my pace and energy levels

It went pretty well for the first 8 laps (60 or so miles) as I was well within 200 miles for the 24 hr period. 200miles + is my ultimate aim in a 24 hr solo.

Then the heavens opened.

One of the issues in having however many thousands of competitors roll up to these events is the volume of parking and camping needed . This may be around 16 acres in some cases. Traditional race venues cannot support this, so the organisers look elsewhere. That usually means unridden trails which are generally not weather proof. This seems to be a fact that is necessary given the varied ingredients in the 24 hr race potion.

So, the decision was: massively reduce aims, and keep going all night (I define a 'proper' 24 hr effort as not going to bed, and not stopping for over 30mins unless forced to) or sleep for a few hours, write off the 200 mile total as a benchmark and try to keep smiling.

I chose the latter and was rewarded with more time to speak to people I haven't seen in a while and 3.30min sleep. I managed 15 laps in total, around 100 miles. I'll post some comedy pictures of mud coated everything (at times I was dragging my bike literally, as the wheels wouldn't go around) through mud-grass hell. I had to renege on my 'never wash my bike with water rule too, after 15 months due to the extreme stickiness after drying of the stuff.

Still, picked up my new tIF on the way back (thanks muchly Tim). Needless to say, it is a piece of work...

The parts are nearly there....It's going to be too bad-ass for words.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dirty skin

Ragged thumbnails

Wilderness 101

Last week I returned from New York and Pennsylvania. I had been looking forward to the Wilderness 101 for nearly a year (since the Singlespeed Worlds 2005 were held in State College). Over the last few years I have often thought of doing a 100mile race in the states, ever since reading the stories of the Cream Puff and Mike Ferentino's excellent write up of the Leadville 100.

The riding in and near State College is the best I have ever done. The trails are tough, technical rewarding and dappled with sunlight under a dense canopy of trees. The climbs though stout are not back breaking and the town has everything I could ever hope to be provided with. Excellent coffee via WC Clarkes Cheese Shope (, supreme bike service/advice and parts from Mt Nittany Wheelworks ( ) quite possibly the worlds best beer at Otto's Brew Pub ( I should also mention quite possibly the worlds best beer and pizza combo at Faccia Luna...

Anyways, the plan was fairly straightforward. Trina and her bro David were to head to New York, after wishing me luck as I aimed for Interstate 80 from Newark airport. The car? well, this time a wee compact car - a Chevy Cobalt did the duty.

Luckily I remembered the drive for the most part as my MapQuest was ok, but minimal.

Having arrived in State College at 7 ish, I put the wheels on the bike, and headed out to Otto's for a few beers and some food. I knew the shop crew meet there one evening a week, but wasn't completely sure which. Needless to say I got the wrong day, but as I wobbled off down the road again, who should drive by but Frank (a good friend from Mt Nittany Wheelworks) and his excellent wee lad Eoinn. So we lobbed the bike on the car and headed out for icecream...I saw my first firefly and had a good natter and slouchy evening with Frank and Eoinn.

Jet lag always bites a little and next day I hit the streets at 6am, after a 5am wake up, and headed out to meet Bill at the Cheese Shoppe. He was roasting and we had a short chat, I drank gallons of the best coffee and met Peter Buck, and Joe Gore. After catching up I spent a little more time between roasts setting the world to rights with Bill then headed off to Mt Nittany Wheelworks. Shopping time! Well, I knew Trina would be doing th same so it was time to melt plastic.

After a cheery 'hello!' to everyone at the shop (so good to see Jim and Harry again) it was time to slot a little ride in, so we headed out of the shop and made for the local trails. Frank railed the twisties and roots, with Peter on his heals. I tried my best to keep up and not get lost...these trails really do rock!

We all made for Otto's later and a few beers were indeed consumed. The last of which was a beautiful if evilly powerful porter which sent the last 3 in the bar (Frank, Jim and myself) down for 10. After a collision, blood loss, double-visioned cycling and a sheepish arrival at Beth's (Franks eminently better half) we finally closed down for the night. 3.30am, perfect for race prep! It is not unusual for Jim and myself to close the bar it seems...

I was supposed to get up and go ride/course mark at 7.30am with Peter and Joe next morn' but I just slept through my alarms and felt like I had been kicked around the head. So I passed and instead focused on eating and drinking and then heading to Coburn for registering. Jim and Frank also felt a bit shabby and an uneventful day led to a pizza and 1 or 2 beer combo at Faccia Luna. A good chat with Matt Ferrari and I knew he had that look in his eye for this race...

Early bed as next morning would mean getting up in the dark.

So, 4.30am beep beep beep, and into the car. I had looked out some stuff the evening before and felt pretty prepped and calm. Only issues of note were a newly mounted front tyre (Maxxis Ignitor: mana from heaven) and a practically unused Wingnut Assault pack (this sits over the lumbar region of spine and I hadn't had chance to really ride with it and see how it felt).

The siren went at 7am as a field of 300 rode out from Coburn. Several miles of tarmac and gravel road then a stern climb to stretch things out. At some point I am going to get a map and a gradient thingy here, as the course which is one of the very few 100 milers to be one big loop deserves a lot more words than I can type this evening.

As far as my race, I felt good initially. Fit and strong and confident in my ability to finish. I'll admit this was the first point this was the case. The aid stations (as with the rest of the organisation) were incredible, truly top notch. The sense of community and number of volunteers was awe inspiring.

After I passed Dan Jansen (at that point 100 mile series singlespeed leader) I wondered at my ability to finish at the pace I was riding. I felt ok and decided to just keep rolling with an open mind. I passed a few other faces I didn't expect to and someone yelled I was top ten singlespeed. I certainly hadn't anticipated 'racing' this per se but I'll admit to being keen to keep the pace up.

Eventually, after some mind blowing singletrack and high heat and humidity I finished, scoring 7th place singlespeed. I was pretty pleased to see the finish after feeling like I could ride forever at some points through the race. Notable performances, Matt Ferrari putting serious metal to pedal and maybe, just maybe getting singlespeed overall for the series. Jimbo for riding a comfort bike for charity the whole way. I cannot begin to describe how strong that really is. Frank for riding with a busted up head and hip after the Otto incident and still battering around the course. Joe for knocking 1.5 hrs off his previous best time. Ken Roth for riding for the first time in 4 weeks (due to slipped disc pain) finishing 60+miles and Peter Buck for the most outstanding come back recorded (after a period of serious hurt mid-race from the heat and humidity probably) without testosterone patches I have witnessed.

All in all a supreme time. More technical points soon, once I am able to work out how I drank 10 litres of fluid in 9.18 hrs.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Back from the Wilderness 101. A 101 mile mtb race over rough and beautiful terrain.

Full report once I have caught up on sleep. Meanwhile,