Friday, March 30, 2012

Sufferin' Succotash

As any cat worth his thhhhalt will tell you, succotash makes a fine accompaniment to a meal. Primarily boiled corn and beans, the variations are endless. This is adapted from the Lupe Pinto's cook book version.

Stoke up the barbeque and smoke 2 green peppers. If that is not going to happen, blacken the peppers skin in an open flame, bag and peel. De-seed and chop.

Meanwhile, fry 2 chopped onions, chopped garlic - 2-3 cloves - and 3 stalks of celery, chopped up too. Get em done, but not to mush and add the peppers. Stir in a pound or so of corn and a pound of white or Haricot beans. Then add 2-3 pickled and chopped jalapenos and a small tub of 2% fat greek yoghurt, or cream if you're feeling like you have arteries to spare. Stir and serve.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I trained for 10 years to do the job i do. does that count for my 10,000 hours to make an expert? Hardly! Sometimes, i come into work and just shake my head at the strangeness of it all. Over recent years, the health of the general populace in the UK has improved out of all recognition: very little of my time is taken up with actual pathology these days...there are lots of theories why this is, but there is no doubt it is happening. What floods in like a tidal wave to fill the vacuum left by physical ill health is worry. I'm not sure how well i have been equipped to put up with the quagmire that has formed as a result.

I suppose when this sort of thing starts to lap against the hull of my existence, i try to find a reason to jump on a bike. The more involving a trail the better. It is no secret that i love riding the rocks and roots and the East Coast of the USA, and Virginia in particular, is a great favourite.

I follow several blogs of riders from that helps fill in the gaps between my dose of 'gnarl'. Nate Shearer keeps one of the blogs i like the most. Excellent photography is mixed with interesting philosophy. Recently he uploaded a video of riding in the area of Short Mountain. I try not to re-post stuff, but this is WELL worth it...i *think* there might even be a Hugh Jass appearance in there somewhere. Enjoy - this *is* a reason to be cheerful.

Pwappa Relaxcyling on Short Mountain with Spaghettilegs from Scott Wootten on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


We jumped on a plane and soared under a bright sun, southwards, to Bristol. We met friends from near and far and enjoyed strolling around the busy but superbly organised show. Coffee from Look Mum No Hands led to beer as the afternoon wore on and perenial favourite Mud dock provided an excellent place for food, more conversation and reflection on the day. Sunday started with a breakfast in Rocotillo's then another quick zip around the show, a few more too-short-hello's and then being flung back through the azure sky, homewards. What a fine way to spend the weekend.

Highlights of the show for me in terms of bikes: Darren Crisp's commuter, off road and road bikes and Robin Mather's beautiful bikes - particularly the pink commuter - so, so clean.

It was also excellent to see Shand Cycles hand built production models. I'd strongly recommend a long look if you are in the market for a disc brake 'cross or all-road style bike. I've uploaded some pictures to flickr. Enjoy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shit happens.

The rain had gone. The Maul was beckoning me mischievously. Lack of fitness be damned: i knew i had to get out on the race bike and see if i could create the horsepower necessary to do it justice.

If you've read this blog much you'll probably know that recently i picked up a weapons grade race machine from Sean at Vertigo cycles. Then i basically stopped riding for several months!....the purpose remains the same for this bike tho' - A to B as fast as possible.

As soon as i clicked the pedals i wanted to sprint. And i did. Over roots, rocks, through the odd patch of mud, up, down around. For an hour and a half i let my ragged breathing and painful muscles hold this machine back from what it really wanted. To put everything into play and fully open the throttle.

I must get fitter. I must.

Then i popped into the air over a small dry stane dyke that had collapsed over the years and square edged the rear wheel. As i went into the sharp right and roosted so aggressively only Greg Herbold would have approved, i knew the rear tyre was going flat. Crap.

Then i realised i didn't have my pump.

Damn. I did have my Genuine Innovations gas and inflator unit though. I got to about 15 psi and then the seal blew on my inflator....It has sat wet in bags and packs for years, so it doesn't owe me anything. I turned tail and headed home....10 more psi and i would have had to make a decision.

That bike is incredible....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2 posts?

2 posts in one week? Blogging isn't dead, its just comatose.

Spent a bit of cave time yesterday sorting some stuff out. The bike packing bike needs deployed soon. Very soon. Don't know how, where or what, but i need an sleep pattern may not, but i do. I need to see the sun come up with some camping coffee as i lie with a broken back in a bivvi/sleepbag cocoon.

Anyway. I was trying to fit some new style xt brakes to the bike packing bike. Once you get used to the exquisite lever feel, the old style ones wont do. The power is so good too. Anyhoo, problems!....firstly, the ultra short levers dont play too well with original Jones bars. So i had to pull the old ti ones off. By design or fate, who knows? but i had a set of the alu loop bars in the parts pile, so i filed the shim edges, lined everything up, smeared some loctite under the shim and torqued the stem bolts.

Then i went to bolt on the caliper and lever. Crap! no 180 front disc post (2 posts?) to IS adaptor. I clawed through the parts boxes and managed to put to gether an embarassment of all sizes from 140 rear to 203 front, but no 180 front. In the past i have filed down avid 185mm rotor adaptors, but in this instance i wanted the correct part.

A trip to the shop and bingo!....brake on.

Yeah the hose is too long, but with some of the new style soft bags mounted under the bars, you need a bit extra hose. I'll try it out, work out what i need and trim it later. As a side note, all you Jones owners, Porcelain Rocket are doing some sweet bags for Jones bikes....see here.

(image belongs to Porcelain Rocket, i hope its ok to show it)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beinn Mhùrlaig.

What a weird winter it has been. Weather wise and otherwise, but for the purposes of this blog, it is the weird weather im thinking about. Last week there was a couple of days of spring like, beautiful sunshine. With the aim to finish some unfinished business and top up the stores of Vitamin D i headed up to Ben Vorlich (Beinn Mhùrlaig). Why unfinished? I had wanted to loop round from Callander via Stuc a"Chroin and then back via the dismantled railway down Glen Ogle (interestingly translatable as the glen of dread...Gleann Eagal). However, i had to make some short cuts as the terrain had been slow going. On top of Stuc a'Chroin, i had a good view of Ben Vorlich and so i wanted to close this one off.

My fitness has evaporated. The time window was so tight it was silly. I didnt even stop to put fuel in my car which meant i had to park atop a hill just in case....yep, running on vapours. The sunshine and warmth was unprecedented as i yomped and rode up the initial climb, the trail then flattens a bit and to head up Vorlich you take a slightly eastward, and definitely upwards path. Rocky, loose and then up into the snow, but still the sun beat down. The top section of the trail is on the edge of a corrie. Not vertical, but you wouldnt want to misplace a tyre or a foot....anyway, the view from the top was amazing. I could feel some of the stresses and strains evaporate, and i knew the descent would be a test, given how little off road riding i have done recently.

No doubt! BA saved my life a couple of times and it was a real back to school experience on the faster sections. Nevertheless, i made it back to Ardvorlich in one piece and after some super conservative driving i made it to a petrol station and got Daisy on time as well! Win.