Sunday, December 25, 2011

When the going gets weird…

A few days ago there was another fresh snow fall to the west coast of Scotland. That led me to commit to a course of action. Riding a normal bike in slushy, waterlogged or snow covered woods is ok once or twice but loses its appeal. Several years ago, I took my Kelly RoShamBo and mounted a jones/vicious fat fork and Paul Whub/uma drilled 50mm front rim with endomorph. Initially my thinkering led me to believe that a 26” rear wheel (with a maxis minion tyre) would balance out the geometry (the fork is 5mm shorter and has more offset than the RoShamBo was designed for, and the endo on a 50mm rim has about ½” less radius than the 29er wheel it replaced. Those frames already have a steepish head angle and I didn’t want to pitch myself too far forward - hence dropping the rear with the smaller wheel.. Of course due to the rim brake frame, that meant going either front brake only, or fixed. Fixed it was. Cue loads of fun. The front wheel had precious little lateral grip in the mud and snow, but careening about pinballing off rocks etc was great fun. Before too long, the low bottom bracket and super relaxed (floppy!) handling made me try a 650b rear wheel. Helped by the excellent Neo Moto tyre, it worked really well. The sun ringle 27mm wide rim was just enough despite pretty low quality material and construction. The bike even survived a strathpuffer…amongst other things.Eventually, the bike was pulled apart to lend things to other projects.

But it is time.

This iteration is going to be a bit different. Surly nate. Is there *anything* else? Maybe the Husker Du’s when they arrive? But meantime flotation and grip will be paramount. Again, the rear will be 650b, but I’m going to lace up a velocity p35. It is the widest rear rim I can find and with a dh tube, should allow me to run stupid low pressures mitigating the imbalance between the nate up front and the skinny rear.

Fixed or front brake only? Saint Franken mech or singlespeed? To be decided….

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


So it seems when you have a post that is save as a draft, when you go to publish it, it slots in when you started it, not when you finished it...hmm! if you want, scroll down for that one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Backed up.

Written on December 14th 2011.

Yesterday I picked up my 20kg and my 24kg kettlebells and spent 15 minutes swinging and pressing. Then I got out the rollers and saddled up the road bike and punted out 15 minutes or so at a pretty high intensity. At least it felt like a pretty high intensity.

Today, I can feel it. Feel the pain in the stabilising muscles and in the hamstrings. That tells me I’m way out of shape. It’s not OK, but it’s ok. There are reasons I haven’t been exercising at my usual levels. I may never be able to again. All in all, I need to change the way I 'do' exercise. What remains is the fact that I feel better when I do a certain level and intensity of physical work. I am committed to the act and the results of training.

I was reflecting on the fact that for 2012 I have no goals. In an idle moment I was thinking of trying to enter the Trans Provence. Following that race this year was a thrill. With one thing and another, I couldn’t fit it in, and felt a tinge of disappointment about that as a couple of friends have had their entries confirmed. Not only would I like to do the thing, i'd like to do it with them. But, you know, I’ve been pretty lucky. Or maybe luck isn’t the right word – I’ve been pretty committed to riding in some amazing places over the years. No reason for that to change.

What really struck home was the number of places I have been that have featured in videos that are doing the rounds at the moment: Rossland, BC, Rotorua, NZ and even our own Ben A’an right here in Scotland. Yeah, it’s been ok. Just in case you have missed any, here are those videos.

House of the Big Wheel Part 2: Hei Hei and King Kahuna from Kona Bikes on Vimeo.

Trail Notes - Official Trailer from Cadre Productions on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ever decreasing circles...

Illness: 3 of us.
Hard work: here, and there.
Time is of the essence and in short supply. It's not a sob story or a saga. Just reality.

The snow came. For a short time it gave me sanctuary.

In the night, before sleep i am reading of cold, far off places. Kiss or kill: by Mark Twight, and now End of the Earth by Peter Mathiessen. All to soon, if Daisy doesnt wake us convulsing with vomit in the dark hours, the hours that should be occupied purely by dreams, the weak sun fights to break night's hold on the land.

Hope is born anew.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sublimity and ridiculousness.

At the risk of turning this blog from a cycling-centric monologue into a D.I.Y how-to, the last 24 hours has been all about cast iron and what NOT to do with it.

When we moved house, one of the primary features of the living space was a cast iron spiral staircase. Now, if you were thinking "Oooo! there just isn't enough cast iron stair in my life" at any point, let me counsel you to stop and think once more. Because when you conclude that your decision lacked clarity, and you want to move the beast out of your house, lets just say it takes a fair old bit of elbow grease. Yet again, i owe my dad big time for the efforts.

Then of course once you have done this, stir in a generous portion of your just-well daughter vomiting her guts up 'til midnight. Stir and take it all down the hatch without a scratch.

I should add, i HATE the smell of vomit. I doubly hate the smell of vomit as it is soaking though my clothes. The poor, wee lamb - i could cry for her...i really could.

Ok: other stuff.

New Black Keys album soon.
New The Roots album soon.

The P Phone has ended her incarceration. She went outside for the first time in ~6 weeks yesterday. Her new porthole into the outside wall is perhaps a little snug fitting, but i'm sure its just her winter coat, right?

Talking of which...

Monday, November 28, 2011


Forever. That is how long i have wanted a pegboard tool board. Yes, yes, yes i keep most of the tools in a tool chest. Doesn't matter one jot. I still want - and now have - a pegboard tool hanger system. Getting pegboard in the UK isn't easy: this was mail order. Still, with a wee bit of the saw, the drill and the screwdriver, i have a perfectly servicable pegboard now. Bliss!

It looks a little like a polka albino monolith from 2001: a space odyssey, but it makes me happy.

I am running up a massive debt of intended posts, i am also so far behind on personal comms it wouldn't surprise me if people disown me. Gah! every 5 minutes seems to have 10 minutes worth of tasks vying for attention. I'll get there, but this suffocating, drowning sensation is driving me nuts.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Self affirming delusions.

It is my suspicion that most people live their lives buoyed by a degree of self affirming delusion. How could it not be so? Take, well, me for example. I think of myself as a constructive part of a family, a friend, a bike rider (and occasionally a racer), an aspiring epicurean and somone who puts a fair amount of effort into my work.

An objective outsider might question if any of these facets were realistic given the way the last few weeks have transpired. Am i maintaining my opinion of myself with delusion? After all, there has been no real affirmitive activity. Most often, a generally well adjusted adult will be able to maintain their 'adequacy' even in the face of low levels of supportive input. However, over time, surely it must take its toll?

Is this the reason for the generalised ennui it is hard to ignore in society? On a personal level, there is no hiding my occasional bouts of grumpiness of late, which I am certain are related to the lack of upkeep of the things i believe are the pillars of my personality. However, there has not been any time for all of that: i am more than happy to be focussed on other great and good things at the moment and although I would not say my belief is impregnable, it is most likely that this is a temporary situation.

Why type all this? The other day i finished the things i wanted to do with enough time to escape for a last minute local ride. I plucked the Maul from the rack as (rather unbelievably) i hadnt ridden the bike in the UK. Despite the appaling conditions, i wanted to savor the outcome of Sean and my efforts at creating a truly unique and rewarding tool. Needless to say, it was tantamount to abuse to put such a machine to work in the slop, goop and muck. But it fed my soul. It will keep me afloat for another couple of weeks until things calm down. Or... maybe they wont calm down. Maybe i will need to adapt.

Reagrdless, dont forget to try and spend just a little time doing the things you love to do. With a little nurturing, i will keep on charging. So will you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mohandas Gandhi

Amongst many, many thought provoking and profound comments Gandhi made, this one appeals to me greatly:

'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'


Monday, November 14, 2011

Alastair Humphrey's microadventures.

So, every now and then i catch up with what the prolific Mr Humphrey's has been up to... i was happy to see he has been up the Cuillin ridge and pleasantly surprised that this micro adventure was shared with Alex Glasgow - a friend i don't see enough of.

Mountain Microadventure: Climbing the Cuillin Ridge from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

The Cuillin ridge is a piece of this earth i have great respect and love for. And the riding round there ain't bad either.

Good work...

Friday, November 11, 2011

When moustaches go critical.

Thursday was one such day. You know it is coming, as you chew a sandwich an errant moustache hair makes its way between your incisors and makes for an unpleasant tugging sensation. Or you may wake up with a saliva soaked pelt on you lip. Either way, it is a sign that the manly display you take such pride in needs some love...

It is true that when you have packed all your facial hair preening products and accessories sometimes this task takes a back seat....but all too soon, things go critical. You can't eat, speak, cope with any breeze in to your face without follicular invasion of the mouth.

It may be Mo'vember, but you need to keep things tidy.

Anyway, been juggling a lot of stuff. There are one or two projects on the go, but infancy, nay concept stage. The most interesting is linking a set of new style xt levers to an old set of either Saint or xt calipers. I am undecided as to whether Goodridge, or Shimano will provide the hose via either Saint high pressure hose, or SM90 xtr hose and also what bore of hose insert i'll use. We'll needs a bit of tinkering. Part of me is loathe to break up the Saint brake set i have cos i might try and find a new home for them, but it would be fun to try.

Chipps popped by as well...a surprise visit that was very welcome indeed. We don't see enough of each other at the mo', a situation that i'm sure will improve. I haven't managed to get down to the valley this year....which just goes to show: the speeding-up-of-just-about-everything takes a firmer grip. Good to see good people.

We also need to repatriate the cat at some point. The P-phone has been holidaying with my mum and dad...she always seems so serene and calm after a time with them...we'll need to work out what we will allow her access to while she aquants herself with the new territory...hopefully it won't lead to bother for her.

And you know, i might try and ride a bike soon. Talking of which, the story of the new 6 mile commute is kinda chewing on me at the moment....why do people become fangs-bared-maniacs as soon as they get in their metal/wheeled boxes?

And last -but far, far from least - our baby girl is one on wednesday. One. what an immense, mind-boggling, entertaining, rewarding, consuming year it has been, It has gone by in the blink of an eye, so much has changed, so many charged events. Bonkers. Here's to year two.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

It's been ages, right?...

...since i updated the blog....feels like it at least. Every day has been played out at one hundred miles per hour. Maybe more. I am so far behind on things like e-mails i may collapse yahoo's server. However, the fruits of the labour are worth the backlog.

This is the new kitchen. We are fortunate that Daisy has *very* helpful and caring grandparents. The list of things they have all done for us over the last few weeks (let alone years!) is long indeed. A big, big thank you for all the hard work. For instance, my dad took a week from work to come through and help me rip out the old kitchen (that had a mouse colony in it...oh, the smell.....oh....) and build a new one, whilst re-wiring and re-plumbing all the new stuff in. I have learned over the years a small percentage of his knowledge in terms of this sort of project and there is always more to learn...its *great* fun, if hard work, especially over the last 12 hours where things have been at an 'almost done' stage. This might give some idea of where we started...

So, a few colour charts, a little more wiring, some plaster finishing and painting and we can move on to the next room...
I'm sore and tired, tasks like breaking down the old marble work surfaces was really heavy work, but i'm stoked with the results.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Whisky in the jar.

Well, Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA anyway.

Packing up is sort of cathartic, sort of sad. Neither of us slept well last night, i guess anticipating today's hard work...Nearly done.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not long 'til we're outta here...

Nearly there...nearly.

A few things have been found, or perhaps re-located would be the best way to say it...take this:

The glass was given to entrants at the 2005 singlespeed worlds in State College, PA. To my mind, the best course i've ridden at a sswc, though there have been so many shining examples. The beer is local to that area: it is the last 90 minute IPA i have in the beer store. Savouring it slowly, particularly as the potent 9% will take my head off as exhaustion means i have very little beer capacity.

Lots of things are happening. I need to write up our experiences at the Mugdock round of the 'cross season. I managed to force a 16th place finish. A great race, but again, the weather had left a mud bath for riders to ride in. Persephone is fighting too - for territory. A new feline arrival is causing havoc with established areas. I'm sure it will work out, but i couldn't help but yell an internal "go girl!' as she chased off the much larger male interloper this morning.

I may also have a new role to fulfil soon. It should be fun, but is under wraps at present. Still haven't ridden a bike, but there are more pressing tasks to attend to.

What else....wordpress or typepad? or stick with this? who knows....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Unpacking & packing.

So i finally got the Maul built up a previous life a time delay this long would have been unthinkable...but so it was cool to get it back together and add the few finishing touches - ti rotor bolts, caliper and brake bolts, bottle cage bolts, headset adjustment bolt, and drop the bars 3mm.

Nope, i havent had chance to get out and has been so damn wet here that is not such a big deal...but i will, soon.

Tomorrow it is 'cross race number 2 for me, 3rd in the season, and one of my favourites: Mugdock!...local riding and a not very 'cross 'cross course...but good fun. I released the Iron Maiden bike from the grip of the concrete like mud that it had been encased in, Han Solo like, since Plean, but didnt have time to do a full clean up job. Talking of Plean, i finally got a write up onto the VC Moulin blog. Check it.

You might notice that the layout and background on this blog have changed again. Somewhere along the line i burnt my bridges and so i lost a shit load of stuff, such as the flickr link window and the nicely organised links i had. Pretty grumpy about all that, but it seems i'm not the only one grumbling about blogger....we'll see how this plays out. I got damn close to shutting the whole thing down....


Perhaps of interest, there is an interview i did with Benji for Singletrack World in the current issue, 69, of Singletrack mag. I'm not clear if you gain much, but there is some history there and a general insight in to what makes me tick - bikewise at is generally a good issue, with interesting tests of the Jones steel diamond frame and the Mukluk from Salsa and various other interesting articles....

Talking of interesting bits, i still need to write up my visit to Ruckus Components in Portland - two interesting and talented guys weaving magic from carbon fibre, and also the Oregon Manifest Constructors competition show.

I'll get to it..

Monday, October 17, 2011

Updates, sort of...

I've been using blogger for some time is inevitable that you start to mess around with the html as you go along. Add a widget here, re-space the content there, add a flickr link etc etc.

I don't know if blogger has thrown the toys out the pram, or whether the mess i made in there was just too much, but recently lots of things haven't been working out. Links and past entires were somewhat penitently buried under the main text and the links were getting unwieldy at best.

So, i tried to do some sorting out and hey presto! everything went sideways.


So here you have my, at best, temporary fix. It may well last long enough to become otherwise. It is 'dynamic' apparently, but lacks links and other widgets...not sure how much that matters or an opinion? Do play around with the layout options if you like.

Meanwhile, i'm collecting my thoughts after a rather messy 'cross's a pic of my most important fan in the mean time

Currently, i am listening to: Talkdemonic - thank you Mr Vernor.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Are you 'cross enough?

The Photo is my wifes. It may well be the last time - or there abouts - i raced 'cross. The year before last, give or take. I'd like to think i was passionate about 'cross, but compared to the zealotry it engenders in some bike racers i'll admit that i'm relatively ambivalent - hence the hiatus. As harsh as that sounds, i do like racing 'cross. It is fast, furious and generally gets a lot of crunched up angst out of the system. If you aren't tasting blood, you probably aren't trying hard enough and to not try hard enough is to miss the point of 'cross entirely.

So tomorrow, i'm going to drag my exhausted, out of shape, weak and soft carcass to Plean for the next round of the Scottish cyclocross series. I may very well race at Mugdock the following weekend as well.

I *will* race my guts out.

To that end, i have a new secret weapon (no, not a bike) that will give me special powers and may offset a little of the weaksauce i am currently bathed in. The bike has been slightly updated: lower, more aggressive, smaller gear, new rear tyre. Better lube the chain, dig out the embrocation and get ready to rumble.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Minneapolis West.

Heading home now. In some ways, it seems to have been a loooong trip. In others, very short. What i would definitely say is it has been highly enjoyable. Portland has a nice way of life: the priorities seem in good order. People, health, food, quality of life issues. I'll be back for sure.
Highlights? Catching up with Sean and family. The Maul, of course!...surpassing all my objectives, aesthetically, and functionally. Awesome!. Riding in sight of Mt Hood. Again, thanks to Kevin and Sean for that one. Doing a little welding with some ti tubes. I'm going to come back to this in a future post. I had chance to catch up with Nick Sande as well - and we reflected on his bike packing trips out of Portland. The area is ripe for that sort of thing, with major differences in climate as you move over the rain shadow of the mountains, east towards Bend.
I also managed a short trip to the Museum of Contemporary Craft to check out the winners of the Oregon Manifest design challenge. Say what you like about expensive, custom commuting bikes, but i fully expect to see some of the design features here trickle down and make your next town bike a whole lot better to use. I also had a great time visiting Ruckus Components. Super bright guys.
I didnt get chance to ride the Mackenzie River trail, which i had been hoping to cram in. No matter, it's not going anywhere... I'm looking forward to seeing my baby and my baby now. Persephone needs a wee hug and a head scratch too. Home soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Wish my ladies were coming with me. A brief sojourn in the Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another view...

A few posts ago i waffled on about making plans for the future and sort of chipping away at them to make big things actually happen.

This is the view from the west of the summit of Ben Lomond. Perhaps due to its proximity to civilisation, if Glasgow can be called such!, this hill doesnt have any real attraction to those who live for the wild places. It is often busy, which robs it of the isolation and maybe even the sense of risk that walkers desire. Nevertheless, as a bike route it has some good attributes. The west highland way, which runs along side Ben Lomond, is pretty good riding at this stage. You can be up it in under 2 hours, with good sections being rideable. It is a pretty reasonable technical descent. Nothing mind boggling, or with crushing exposure, but a good solid work out for rider and bike the whole way down. I had never considered the Ptarmigan Ridge of Ben Lomond before (which is what i am looking at in the above picture). But, you know, i might just have to pretty looks like it might be a little more involving...and that is no bad thing.

These are not termed the bonny banks for nothing...

Only the other day...

'Only the other day i looked forward to this airy barrier as a definite point in our journey homewards; but now i find it, all such resting-places for the imagination are like shadows, which a man moving onwards cannot catch.'

This was Charles Darwin in his Beagle journal. I came across this quote the other day in a book about a journey to the Antarctic. It describes the sense that often the physical way points of a journey take on a lesser quality when compared to the effects on the person that takes place concurrently and as a result of the journey.

This is something i wholly subscribe to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9 teeth is all you need.

A little while ago, i posted about new school micro drive mtb clusters. There are lots of reasons why they make sense. Suffice to say that with a 9, 10 and 11 tooth at the high range on the cluster, going down to 32, 34 or even 36 with 9 or 10 speeds gives a huge spread and although the 9 tooth might put more strain on the chain and be slightly less mechanically efficient in lab conditions, covered in mud and given how lttle time you spend in your top gear, and how low the torque is in that gear (admit it!), i doubt durability will be that much of an issue...but think of the benefits....!

(pic is Pinkbikes, from an article about this custom DT freehub body for Sam Hill and the rest of the Specialized DH boys bikes. I'm pretty sure this is a Shimano Capreo compatible system).


For the record the development (as in the distance a 26" wheel bike moves with one rotation of the pedals) for a 36:11 gear is 7.053m. Let's say you had a block with 9 teeth on the smallest sprocket, the same development, more or less, is achieved with a 30 tooth front cog (7.183m). So imagine how real-world useful a 32 or 34 chainring with a 9-34 or even 36 rear cluster would be?

(pic is VitalMTB's from their excellent interbike coverage).

Enter Canfield Brothers. With a can-do attitude, and a broad range of mountain bikes in their portfolio (including a new interest in 29er am hardtail set ups), they are bringing to market a hub that will work on most rear standards (135mm, 150mm, 157mm and i believe qr or 12mm and 9 and 10 speed compatible) that has a freehub body optimised to run the bottom 3 sprockets of a Shimano Capreo cassette. If you haven't heard of the Capreo group, it was designed to work with small wheel road bikes - think folders, Bromptons etc. 'Course with a small wheel, you need big gear ratios to give you resonable development. So, you use massive chainrings or small clusters. Bingo. The 11 tooth has a female fitting over the end of the cassette body splines (look up at that top pic) and it has male splines that the 10 tooth fits onto. This in turn has male splines that the 9 tooth fits on to and there is an external lockring that threads onto the end of the stepped down section of the freehub body. You only lose a small amount of lateral space for the bearings that typically fit in the freehub body.

I want one...or maybe 2...yes, i hope DT market the freehub body so i can use my DT hubs, but i think i'll be getting one of the Canfield hubs when it hits the market. With Hope also playing with this system, i doubt it will be long until really wide range 1x10 set ups are common place.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Wind as allegory and the 'cross season.

So much. So much.

The 'cross season is around the corner...last year i managed somewhere in the region of zero cross races. This year i'm hoping to try a little harder. We'll see how we go. As part of my 'cross specific training program, i spent a bit o' time parked on my fat arse looking at pictures of what is going on at interbike. Theres been some stuff of interest to me at eurobike and interbike, and one of those items is the even fatter tyres from Surly.

I think this picture (belonging to Chris King's flickr) sums it up best...

By this time in the year, over the last decade, i would probably be coming down off somewhere in the region of 12 plus hours of riding a week. At present i'm squeaking out about 2. I'm fried by work and the constant battering of 4.30am wake ups with Daisy. She is just getting crawling going with a consistent forward direction (you should have seen the look of surprise on her face as she went for something in fornt of her, but ended up reversing and often pirouetting around over the last fortnight). We're kind of hoping that as she gets less frustrated and more mobile and thus presumably more tired she sleeps a little more...we could certainly do with it.

As such, you've got to find the time to squeeze in what you can, right? so when i took my car to the garage i use in Bathgate, i decided to ride back to Glasgow. Of course, i knew we were still under the effects of Hurricane Katia and as such i would face a headwind for 60 km. Well i did. A brutal, mind numbing and deafening headwind. I learnt all about the larger cogs on the 10 speed block and was incredibly grateful that i had the foresight to bring an ipod to provide a psychological boost as the wind roared through me. Still, despite managing to get lost yet again as the national cycle route 75 takes detours and bypasses building work in Airdrie, i got home somewhat happy that i had chipped out a couple of hours ride time.

So with that, i'll turn on the iplayer and watch some of this weeks rugby world cup with a beer and a thousand mile stare...Hodala!'s to cross season!...

(Picture is the Bikehugger's...)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Saint 2012?

A few posts back i had wondered aloud whetehr Aaron Gwin's rear derailleur might be a mash up of the xtr trail plus and Saint mechs. It might be, but here, 4 minutes in on Pinkbike's 'just the tip', Brett Tippie and Monkey (the Trek world racing mechanic) discuss the new (presumably Saint) shimano brake and rear mech prototypes Mr Gwin was using in Champerey.

Eyes peeled - i can only imagine what the new Saint brakes will be like given the transformation the xc orientated ones have had and that rear mech is on the want list.

Course some other guy called 'Danny' is in there too...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New World Order.

There has been lots to see at Eurobike...several things i am interested in are the advent of lighter 83mm bb cranks (such as the e thirteen 'r' model and a slew of lightweight race bikes - most interesting of which were the pro's 'works' bikes - Flükiger's Trek and Nino Schurter's Scott for that stuff...

But the game changer in some ways has to be the proto Maxxis Minion 2.5 29er tyre. Seen on As one of the most respected 'all mountain' tyres it heralds the new world order.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Seafood and pork Étoufée.

Étoufée is a cajun dish - usually a mixture of fish over rice. It is less sloppy than gumbo, but similar in the use of the dark roux and the Louisiana 'holy trinity' of onions, green peppers and celery.

I mix in a bit of pork: lardons, bacon, you choose and i tend to use more veg than the typical recipe.

Here you go (for 4 servings).
Pour yourself a boozy drink.
Quaff deeply.
Make a dark roux.
Add a little olive oil and then the chopped head of celery, 2 chopped green peppers, 4-6 spring onions chopped and a large, spanish onion, again, chopped finely.
Give it about 5 minutes on a medium heat and add the lardons, chopped bacon or whatever. I also will sometimes add some pulled, boiled chicken breast at this point (boil some chicken with some oregano and maybe some garlic, long and slow).
Quaff deeply if you havent already, and take in the aroma of cooking cured pork. Ahhhhhh! bacon!.....
Stir in 500ml of chicken stock. The higher quality (home made?) the better.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, A few sprigs of fresh thyme (dried will do) a bunch of parsley, chopped and 3-4 bayleaves - again, ideally fresh - scrunch them up to release the oils.
After seasoning, simmer for half an hour or so.
Add scallops - as many as you fancy and prawns too. Give it a couple of minutes, then add a lump of dressed crab (maybe 200g+?) and either a carton of cream (volume as you see fit 200ml or so ?) if you want to chase the heart attacks, or perhaps 2% Total or similar greek yoghurt and get it off the heat.

Serve over boiled rice, with Louisianna hot sauce - i like Crystal - some chopped parsley and perhaps a wedge of lemon.


Monday, August 29, 2011

? φιλοσοφία

That is Greek...and it means 'love of wisdom'...translates to philosophy. A little while back i waffled on about the fact my philosophy as regards riding was changing. Perhaps changing isn't the right word. Developing? maturing? going mouldy? heh!...Then because i didnt actually know how to define philosophy, i ended up doing a bit of wikipediaing and getting all excited by Stoicism. But i'm back now...

Despite arguably having had some good results in the (2 ?) races i entered this year, my interest in racing is waning. Clock watching, intervals, riding not-just-for-fun hasn't been doing it much over the last 12-18 months.

On the other hand, despite significant amounts of hike-a-bike and peat bogs, grand, backcountry-ish style loops have my full attention. Yes, you might end up riding for 10 hours, 1 of which is golden, but all in all a 1:10 ratio isn't all that fact, it's probably good. The work to get to out of the way places, to sample trails or views that few others do, is definitely a driving force at the moment. But it is not a oneupmanship sort of a thing. I thrive on solitude in the hills, i relish hard work in order to witness remote places. Yeah, i hate carrying my bike down rivers or through bogs, but it comes with the territory.

Anyway, yesterday i got a late start and after peering at some maps for a while, i decided to head west along Loch Voil (because i never have) and take a look at the Inverlochlarig area. This is a dead end road that grants access to the bottom of a group of mountains that define the north east end of Loch Lomond.

I have always been intrigued by the area, as the access in and out of it seems to be primarily from the west and north. What if i could traverse this area and by doing so link up the west of Loch Lomond (that acts as a great scar down the centre-west of scotland) and the area to the east - the Trossachs and Perthshire. It would be a big loop, almost definitely an overnighter if not two, but it would link up massive amounts of trail close to home...

It needs more work, particularly as the trail as you move to the west side looks like it could be both steep and very boggy in places. But the tops of Beinn a'Chroin An Caisteal and Beinn Chabhair look like they provide that precious, sweet singletrack with incredible views even if in some places it appears there might be a bit of scrambling. So one or two more reconnaissance trips and then we'll see if we can get it done before the snows fall.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A hack saw, a Dremel and a set of files.

So i got a set of the M985 Trail pedals (185g) and got to work....

It was a little nerve wracking at times...ripping up a brand new set of expensive pedals will do that i guess, but i only slipped with the file a couple of times and pedals get bashed up pretty quickly, so no matter.

Once the cage was cut down and most of the residual teeth filed down (i left a couple to aid flipping during engagement) the weight was 165g - not that i'm counting, but the Race pedals are only 155g...and these have *way* more surface area...

They are going to rock...

Anyone need some M970 xtr pedals going cheap? :-)~

Then i finished off the guide...

This required more cutting, filing, sanding and a little material removed from the outer/lower edge of the plastic bit of the guide cage...this gives me the clearance i need between the crank arm inner surface and the guide. Sweet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This is a shimano M980 'race' xtr pedal.

Notice the pedal surface area (raw aluminium sections over the axle). This represents a huge (was it 400% ?) increase in surface area over the M970 xtr pedal. Can you feel it? most definitely! No foot hotspots, much more solid connect, easier to stand on un-clipped, likely increase in pedaling efficiency without resorting to carbon solde shoes you cant walk in... In some ways it makes the M970 obsolete...a shame as i have 3 sets on the go, all in perfect working order. But in riding, the M980 is streets ahead....i *love* it...Now, if you have seen*, you may have looked at the article on Chris DeNoma's bike - a beautiful orange IF. Being a shimano rep, he's going to have some hop ups and black box type stuff, right? well precious little, but one thing he did have...

...was a modified M985 xtr 'trail' pedal. Basically he cut away the extended cage fore and aft. Look again at the raw aluminium flat area...its HUGE....precious little weight gain over the 'race' model, by removing the near useless extra cage, but a further massive increase in pedaling surface area. Errr, win?

My next project....

*Link to article:

Maul's rear end.

All curves...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Maul: almost ready for tacking and more components.

I'm really, really pleased about the lines of the frame. I wasnt sure what the sliders with the sweet stays (swoopy seat stays) would be like, but all i can say is i'm stoked. No, make that über stoked.

A bit more on this bike: Sean took my random ramblings and created a blueprint for a bike that will allow me to go from a-b as fast as possible for races lasting 10+ hours. This is where i lay my hat, in a competitive sense. There is nothing to hide behind on this build. I thought long and hard on it - optimisation is the word that springs to mind. Even if a choice was complex, everything here is exactly as it should be for the use intended.

A few more parts...

No, it doesnt have any weird, 2 headset sort of things going on. Maul will have a red/black/raw ti theme...the mango bb and headset will get slotted onto BA. King bearings are second to none in the Scottish sludge. Enve/Edge make some of the finest parts and rims i have used. It is what it is.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Out and about.

Today, we were out and about - Macpac style.

Daisy's Burley.

It became clear a few weeks ago that we were going to have to get Daisy mobile without the use of petroleum. She loves seeing the trees move in the wind and feeling the air as it rushes by. So i did a bit of reading, a bit of asking around and came to the conclusion that baby trailers and seats *both* have their place.

A good friend of mine had a Burley trailer that he had been on many an adventure with his sons and after he accepted way too little cash for it, and another good friend went way out of his way to deliver it, Daisy got her first wheels.

Burley trailers are ingenious. They are big and, well, burley but they fold down and are extremely user friendly. After attaching it to the bike, we took off for a trial run. Daisy is quite wee for the harness as is. More good advice from a good friend and Burley user was to pack her in with pillows and cushions. We have also ordered a snuggle seat that will hopefully help.

At first it was all smiles, but without padding things got quite sideways and admittedly there were some tears and snotters.

In addition, Daisy will be helping out on the neighbours school run. Or maybe that would be hindering, we'll see! but now, she also has a rack-seat...again, at first it was all smiles...and i'm sure once she is used to it - and the helmet! - it will all be good. But the first run did lead to some tears...and snotters!....

It's all good.