Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black box

Just like the mysterious black boxes in 2001 and 2010, the race is consuming all my time.

As a teaser - got a new tool...but what does it do?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Sometimes i need to do a bigger haul. I still would prefer to use a bike....

Image (and more info) from bikehugger.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Schpeed, ... shingleschpeed

Nice work.

Wheels and breaker bars

I finally got around to building up a new rear wheel to match the front wheel which will be used on the nzumbi. After reanimating the road rat (which got unceremoniously stripped in building up the voodoo) i have given myself the ability to have 2 built up road going bicycles. The road rat, which will be used for errands, going to work and such, has cheap/used/old stuff and is much less of a target for thieves (spit!).

The nzumbi will be built using newer, posher stuff and will act as a miler muncher for when the trails are too maukit for off road riding, or i just fancy a loooooooooooooooooong ride.

I like wheel building. I now dont ride on any wheels i have not built myself. I have built with 3 different manufacturers rims (mavic primarily, DT and Salsa) i use DT spokes exclusively, comps and brass nips for the most part. I use phil, shimano, DT and paul hubs.

The rear wheel pictured i really enjoyed building. I have had the parts for ages: they were purchased so the front wheel (DT RR 1.1 to DT comps to 340 hub) would have a similar looking but singlespeed rear. The 340 hubs differ from the 240 i use as a singlespeed cassette rear in that they have steel axles and are not available singlespeed. This is a shame, as the 240 is really quite expensive...£220 at last count. So i decided to utilise my old favourite phil wood rear hub. Although coming in at nearly twice the weight of the DT, it is big, burly, beautifully smooth and a dream to build with on account of its huge flanges and super wide spacing.

Within the hour i had my new rear wheel on the bike.

The rim was considerably easier to build with than my previous DT RR - it seemed far more true initially and far less likely to pop out of true once tensioned correctly. My tensiometer tells me i have a good tension all around so it is either luck, skill (doubtful) or a result of a different rim alloy (possible, i did hear a rumour this has been changed) or the use of the hub. Or a mix...

Anyways, should serve me well..

I also slotted the Hunter forks on trina's bike. Her voodoo was designed around a longer fork than the 420mm P2s that were on it and the geometry should be more relaxed and easier to ride trickier stuff now the 440mm rick hunter 5 piece brazed beauty is in place. With that went an upgrade to a king headset....well, it deserves the best.

So - all we need now is some sunshine!

As an aside, ever wonder just how long a breaker bar you need to remove a bmx freewheel from a well used hub? see the
aluminium scaffold pole in the back ground....?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Iteration X

Thanks to Trev at rockstarracing...titec h bars finish off the beater. Fear the reaper.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007


When i was an over enthusiastic, serial campag bearing afficionado, and general mtb magazine junky i spent some time working at Williamsons bike shop in edinburgh. This was the only place i am aware of that at the time stocked original bradbury manitou forks, yeti, fat city stuff, onza bar ends, hyperlite bars. etc etc....

A lot of the credit goes to shop (part) owner Phil Williamson for his vision of what was to come. Team Moont always had the best kit.

I was saddened to read therefore that Phil passed away at the age of 44.

Rest in peace.

Read more:

Tooled up

7 men. 4 barrows. A pick up. 2 showels and 4 spades. 2 marttocks, 2 macleods and 2 crow bars. A quarry. Some avon skin so soft.

The course is looking better.

Big thanks to Nash and Dan in particular for their help.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Just watched Syriana. Not since watching a portly Russell Crowe in The Insider has a film made me think, wince, fear for the future and angry, all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

K tree

10 around kirroughtree was a few weeks ago now, and i have had time to digest and dwell on the ins, outs, ups and downs.

Marty and myself travelled down on friday night as the start was early on saturday. We were to meet up with hamish, chris duncan and crew and then maybe have a beer or two after some dinner, and retire to the youth hostel. It all kind of went to plan, except we got a lock in at the local pub and decided it was whisky time.

It was, for some reason, surprising to find ourselves locked out of the youth hostel at 2.30am, but luckily i had the wardens phone number in my phone and as no one would let us in after banging on their windows ("err, I'm not really sure i should let you in, i mean, i don't know you...."), it had to be used.

A short sleep and up and at em.

Arriving at the kirroughtree visitors centre, it was clear No Fuss had all the bases covered, with excellent food, coffee, marquee coverage, screens showing stuff, a wifi area for instant position download and very organised parking, staff and even a small bike mechanic/shop area.

The race started with a police car lead out. The torrential (and i mean *heavy*) rain of the night before had precluded the ride out from Newton Stewart. At the top of a tarmac climb it was all systems go and the usual british enduro crowd revved their baggies and 4" travel all mountain bikes to the max, breaking for the front. It has always been a bugbear of mine that the vast majority of racers at these events (and i do mean to differentiate from those who are enjoying the completion of such rides and the 'racers') insist on battering to the front only to block those who have a realistic chance of doing well. Its harsh, but definitely true, that some folk need to be more honest with themselves and fairer on others at these things.

Still, some high rev overtaking after the initial blockage at the start of the singletrack put me (i think) in top ten-ish. The course rocked hard. After the initial ride out, the course started with a short singletrack tree-canopy, root and rock climb, to a short section of fire road, then a duck along some hardcore whoops to another short fire road connector, then a super slidey, new cut steep drop and an old forest road climb. This continued for some time, levelled then led to a super fun decent on narrow gauge through the trees with rock drops and natural kickers and berms. The next section was the revelation. A long singletrack, technical climb. This is rapidly becoming a favourite for me. Only the other day someone said how strange it was to be sessioning a technical climb, but why not? it is how chris, marty and me learned to ride.

Following popping out onto the fire road for a last climb, a rolling singletrack section led to another steep slider with a sharp right turn onto off camber, wet rock, more rollers and a final supreme singletrack, dipping and snaking full speed/no braking required decent to the finish area.

So back to the race. As i pushed it along the roller sections on lap one *bang!*. I had dropped my chain...Quickly i dismounted and replaced it, but i thought it was a bit odd, as i have never dropped a chain on my IF before. Immediately the same happened again. On closer inspection one side plate had been forced off the pin and the chain was in essence broken.

Oddly, I had looked in my mini wingnut pack and found i had forgotten to pack the spare 9 speed quick link only that morning. But i wasn't too worried, as, yup! id never broken a chain...


So, i got to work with the chain tool, knowing full well it was probably a lost cause as it was a xt/ultegra 9 speed chain so you need special joining pins. My mind went back to mountain mayhem where i heard a weird crunch from the drive chain...i wonder if this had caused some damage, but it is all academic now. People i know passed (chris d, marty, alison rushton) all offering help and bits but there was nothing compatible, so i had to leg it back to the start finish area and pick up a new chain, fit it and get going again. The morale took a beating and i almost folded.

Then for the first time this year, i looked inside and found some steel. I promised myself once id never give up another mountain bike race after giving up in exasperation at a 6 hour Trek mud madness thing where we were literally towing our bikes for near 5 km around a very messy drumlanrig.

So, i knuckled down, and started trying to chase.

Somewhere i have my lap times and the first 2 laps after this were pretty quick. I reeled in some riders, and despite the 40 minute loss, ended up around 27th solo after 3 laps. Then i started paying for the lack of base miles this year...the rain came on and the course started to become more draggy. Although there were no major climbs, my 58" gear led to some pain in the lower back and tired hams as i kept trying to force the pace.

Lap by lap i gained but i knew i was never going to get the finish i wanted as we approached the 10 hour mark. In saying that 16th overall solo, and 13th in my class ain't just has a tinge of disappointment in that it was the one race other than finale i was focused on this year as i am doing no meridas, and probably on account of sswc, few other events from now on.

However, it was really good to see i still have some sort of competitive core when it comes to these things. It was nice to dig deep and find something there...although it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that this year, i have more of an urge to ride in beautiful places, beautiful weather, on new trails with lovely people, than to hammer my body in the forge of enduro racing. Maybe touring really is the way forward.

We'll see.