Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Lost Coast - again!

Sounding a little like a combo of a who's who in ultra gnarly endurance biking, a group of bikers (including Doom, Roman Dial, Mike Curiak and Epic Eric) have headed for the Lost Coast of Alaska again. With Mike Curiak there, i'm hoping for some good images and perhaps some video...

In the meantime, heres a snippet from The previous trip Eric of Revelate and friend completed a couple of years ago...

Lost Coast Sitkagi Bluffs from Eric Parsons on Vimeo.

Damn, that looks like some pretty hard going!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear diary.

A few months ago, i decided that this blog would concentrate on cycling related activities, rather than my opinions and thoughts on what is going on in the world, food, books or anything else really. The only problem with that is that at the moment i am doing precious little riding of note, and a lot of other stuff. To be fair, not much of that is interesting to anyone but me and mine - so i aint going to clog up the interweb with lots of 'Dear diary' type posts. However, there have been some things recently that i think are worth sharing.

1) G Funk savalas and myself have been busily working on our chili con carne recipes recently. Such a simple meal, but it benefits from refinement and repeated experimentation with ingredients. Really a stew of meat and chilies, it seems so simple, but initial appearances can be deceptive. Most recently i have been messing around with green chili/oregano based mixes. Last night's version makes me think i'm pretty close. 'Scuse the crappy phone pic, but here is a run down of the way to make it. Changes will include swapping bacon for lardons, and perhaps the mince to pulled pork loin or something, ideally from the bbq. It also needs a shed load more heat. Adding pickled chilies after is ok, as is green chili sauce, but it doesnt really cut it. Ideally i would be using Poblanos from the broiler but getting hold of fresh poblanos in the uk is almost, for what its worth, here you go:

Fry chopped bacon in olive oil in a thick, deep bottomed pot. Remove bacon once it is crispy. Add chopped onions 2 good size or 3 small spanish/yellow. Add 7 finely chopped cloves of garlic. fry until the onion is soft. Add the pork mince - 500g or so. colour the meat. Next comes 500ml of chicken stock. Use good stuff, not a cube. Add a tin of mooshed green chilies. While this was going on, you had chopped the flesh from 3 green peppers, and stuck them in a frying pan under a VERY hot grill to blacken the skin. Run around as the smoke alarm goes off, then put a lid or a cover on the pan (once you burn your hand removing it from under the grill) and allow the steam to lift the skins, which you then peal off, before chopping the flesh and add this to the stew, along with a tablespoon (really) of dried oregano. Add the bacon back and cook on a very low heat for at least 30 minutes. Boil up some rice and serve with soured cream, some grated (mature) cheese and pickled jalapenos and green chili sauce.

Course, if you're going to have this, you're going to want a good beer with it...if it was me, i'd go with something hoppy and Odell's IPA.

2) Read a book. The Cordillera is a journal of writing inspired by the tour divide. This year, proceeds are going to a fund for the daughter of a racer who died while riding the course last year. The proceeds are being matched by a charitable donation from a benefactor. As good a reason to buy this book as ever. You know what to do: order it here.

3) G funk has been on a roll recently, and sent me Travels with Charley. Mind blowing: thanks, G. You *must* read this book. That is all.

4) Going back to food again, Daisy has been ramping up the food intake pretty solidly now for a couple of weeks Croissant, red peppers, Bread sticks, porridge, cream cheese, you name it....its all going down the hatch without a scratch...Awesome!

5) I did manage to squeeze in a ride yesterday - probably the first time i have seen Hamish and Dave chops options in about a month, maybe more. The trails are wet beyond belief: Hamish mentioned that the jet stream is playing up which is the reason that north ireland and west scotland are getting a deluge, while the rest of the UK basks in sunshine. Dammit. Anyways, Hamish had some home made energy bar with him, which he picked up off the Hungry Cyclist. The website is well worth a read - thanks go to Hamish for the gustatory heads up.

6) I have been considering Centre of Gravity recently. Most of my recent off road bikes have been 29ers with relatively large bb drop - giving a relatively low bb height, and thus a pretty low C of G. They are wicked good in the turns and flow, but recently i have started to wonder what would happen if the C of G were a little higher? Not Beast of the East high, but maybe 1cm or a little more. Good for slower, more trials-y riding? rocks and fallen trees and slow muddy conditions? I cant remember what first made me start chewing this over, but the recent article about Geoff Apps in the latest (and most excellent) issue of Privateer magazine certainly made me go into full on ponder mode. Fortunately, most of the recent bikes have EBB's that were designed to run in the 'low' positions. Its a pretty simple matter to decrease the bb drop and see how we go...more on this in future...course there are limits:

I need a bacon roll....

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Been hanging around waiting for the LG TR from e.thirteen, but it looks like it will be a little ways off and to be honest i am never going to use the LG1+ without modification, so with the help of Kris from 44 bikes, who was a great source of advice, i set to work on modifying the taco part of the LG1+. With just a little effort and good technique it came out great. Why do this? well, i use a 36 tooth chainring with the 1x9 and i will not go bigger. The taco acts as a bash ring, but it would transmit all the force of an impact to the iscg mounts on the bottom bracket shell. I very rarely hit the chainring, but the taco stood nearly a cm proud of the chainring so i reckoned it would make contact more frequently. In addition, i've heard a few folk have bent their iscg mounts due to this sort of impact - something i didnt want to have happen.

So there you go.

It is also Father's day - my first as a father. I only hope i can emulate *my* father's love, dedication, hard work and efforts over all these years. Maybe to try and ensure i try my best, Daisy got in contact with Steve Fassbinder at Republic of Doom and had a custom vest made for me as a gift.

The skull/pirate theme with the daisy motif is just absolutely fantastic and having always coveted Steve's work (and his numerous back country cycle trips!) it will be worn with a massive smile...

One day.

One day i must get my arse over to SSUSA...

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It looks like a lot of fun, hey?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Clear up...

On reflection, Bristol was interesting. It worked really well for me to get down there without a mammoth drive immediately prior to racing. Better for the mind and the body. Despite not really having adequate fitness, the years of similar efforts meant my mental and organisational game was there. Food wise, although the heat and bumpiness of the course directly after the pit area (which made riding off with a mouthful and or a handful tricky - damn if i didn't drop half a mini pork pie that i was particularly enjoying!) led me to not take in enough calories in the middle part of the 12 hours, i knew what i needed and could tolerate.

But it is really the mental aspect that is important. At one point i was lying on my side in the pit zone seeing double and struggling with the concept of doing anything, let alone 4 laps. But if i had gone home having quit, i wouldn't have been able to tolerate it, so i dug deep.

So why do i feel this need to take on challenges that make my life pretty difficult and uncomfortable? why not just chill out; go for a pleasant ride; have a beer or two? I don't know. I *think* the reason is tied up in the swing of emotions you get afterwards. The 'never again' pure exhaustion and physical pain, followed by the down-turn in the mood as all the endorphins and fun-chemicals re-stabilise in the blood. After, as i gradually claw my way back to normality is the sense of achievement and the appreciation of overcoming an obstacle.

Who knows? This time was the best i have ever been at quick turn arounds in the pits. In, recharge bottles, a quick bite and out. It felt smooth and fluid - very rewarding - almost like a proper athlete...heh!....

Anyways. We'll see how things go, but apart from a return to Shenandoah 100 or Wilderness 101 i cant see me doing another 1 day distance race on the singlespeed. For whatever reason, i think i have done everything i want to realistically do with that. In a lot of ways riding a singlespeed is easier than gears. You can always go faster and push harder if you have gears: your fitness and strength is the limit. Once you get over a certain cadence on a singlespeed, the only way to move faster is to draft - an extremely important skill to gain for races such as Shenandoah, where there are some quite long dirt road segments. Getting on the tail of a geared rider or a group pays huge dividends.

I was following the Trans Sylvania Mountainbike Epic stage race recently. Based around one of my favourite places to ride in the world - State Collge, PA, i could easily see myself dusting off the singlespeed to do that race, but it is different: multiple shorter stages over a period of days. I reckon its on the 'to do list' though.

After i got back from Bristol, we went straight into house buying mode. We had spotted a property a little just out of town, that has a big garage and workroom that i will be able to secure quite easily and space inside enough to suit our 'stay mostly in the kitchen/living area' lifestyle with some easily accessed garden space too. It is ripe for some future 'organic architecture' style refits and a bit of open plan action. I'm thinking of channeling my Frank Lloyd Wright here - opening the space up to the garden, perhaps some more glass/door type stuff. Usonian...knowwhatimean? But thats a ways off! So we had to tear our current place apart and get it ship-shape to put on the market. It has been a pretty hectic few days, but i think we are nearly ready...want to buy a flat?

And to top it all off, there was even a day where it didn't rain and i got out on the bike.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


So Dejay and Jake are on the tour divide....

You'll want to catch up on mtb cast right?

Tear it a new one, boys....

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Bristol Bike Fest.

Reportage on VC it there.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Ding a ding dang.

Here we go again... I leave shortly for Bristol Bike Fest - another 12 hour race. Hopefully i will do the new VC Moulin colours proud, but there has been a woeful dearth of riding. Infact, the only ride on a mtb recently led to me highsiding off a narrow cliff edge trail. I'd spotted this line across the top of a stepped edge, which led under the leaves of a tree. What i wasn't expecting was the 8" diameter stout branch in those leaves. Needless to say, i nutted it, stopped dead and the bike keeled over with me on it. Unfortunately to my left was a 6 foot drop, with a 45 degree slope about 3 feet long, leading to another 6 foot drop, another 3 foot/45 degree slope and then a 12 foot drop to the ground below.

Landing on one's head after a fall of around 9 feet isn't good, but if one has to do it, i don't recommend following it straight up with a further 6 foot drop. Fortunately i came to a shuddering halt before the longest drop.

I *did* get some good riding in, and although a little sore and stiff, i know i will at least enjoy the singletrack of Ashton Court. The Vertigo is laughably competent as a singlespeed. I will also come back to how good the new xtr xc pedals are. Although i'll miss my girls, it will be nice to escape the incessant rain that, over the last month, has taken the trails and turned them to mush. Long live long rides in bright sunshine. More when i get back.