Sunday, November 29, 2009

Testing Times

Salsa Fargo Wide

I'm after a tourer, and my shortlist is either a Salsa Fargo, or a Singular Peregrine. Before I splash my cash though a test ride of both is needed.

Yesterday I picked up Chipps' Fargo, and today after the rain subsided I took it for a spin. Even though it is equipped with Conti Top Contact touring tyres, it handled quite well over the rough stuff.

I've owned a Carradice SQR for ages, though without a bike it would afix to. There is just enough clearance between tyre and saddle to fit this 16 litre monster of a saddle bag to the Salsa. A prerequisite of the new bike, is that this bombproof carrier should fit.

Salsa Fargo

I need to ride it further to make up my mind for sure, but so far so good.

I'll put some knobblies on it next week, and see how it fares on the proper technical stuff with some load.

Still need to find a medium Peregrine to loan for a trial ride before I make up my mind finally.

I reckon this or the Singular will be great for the Tour Mont Blanc.

Friday, November 27, 2009

2010 Adventures Overdue.

Nearing the end of 2009, I realise that I've spent very little time on my bike. My only race was the Kielder 100, and that was a bit of a disaster, and other than a few day trips, not much in the way of adventures.

It's not been laziness. I devoted the days where I would have raced, to taking pictures at those events instead. A strategy which for my photography that is paying off. I've managed to have pictures published in a number of sports magazines. The most recent of which was a picture of Nick for the Ride Journal.

Ride Journal

Anyway for 2010 I'm hoping to combine more riding with the photography, and have some big adventures along the way.

So far on the rather small list are a few sojourns. In no particular order Amy, Kate and I are going to have a couple of days out in the Lake District completing the Lakeland Lugger. A route that I formulated over 2 years ago, reccied a coupe of sections, and have not yet completed. Date TBA, but sometime twixt May and July.

A Tour of the Cairngorms. Time to revisit the Scottish wilderness. 5 days or so camping and riding in February sometime between the 13th-21st (half term).

For the summer holidays, I've not quite decided yet, but following some of the Tour de France and completing the Tour de Mont Blanc in under 24 hrs are targets.

I've retired from 24 hour solo racing for the time being, but I will be at Strathpuffer, Mountain Mayhem, and Sleepless in the Saddle with my camera.

Any more ideas for adventures gratefully received.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kate's Birthday Ride.

My friend Kate invited me along to her Birthday ride, and kindly she'd arranged it to start about 2 minutes ride from my house, so no excuses for not making it, or being late. Even though I was the last to arrive.

Along with Kate for our little adventure were Amy, Ali, Simon and Chris, and they'd all brought along their singlespeeds. I was asked why I hadn't brought mine, to which I replied along the lines of "because I know better".

They had a route planned, however as the local I was allowed to modify our route to incorporate some bits of quality riding that our party hadn't done before. In fact it was modified that much in the end, other than the direction of travel it shared little trail with the original route. Route Hijack.

A pleasant warm up roll down the Sett Valley trail, then off we went up the first hill. Just this side of rideable for it's extent, though of course if you have a singlespeed, you'll be needing the right gear.

Onwards and Upwards

Once at the top of the hill, we headed down a nice steep descent, no offs, but a couple of refusals.

The Tricky Descent

Swoopy, droppy singletrack followed, never too tricky, but exposed.
Poor Ali discovered on the way down, that the mud and grit of which we have plenty currently, had eaten her brake pads. So we diverted slightly to point her in a homeward direction before heading off in search of more slippy twisty lines.

We all knew the first section, but then the next special diversion. I'd only done it once before. In preparation for the 3 peaks James and I had ridden it on our cross bikes. On that occasion neither of us had made it to the valley floor without kissing the grass on our way. I had thought though on that occasion, that on a mountain bike it would be possible to clean the descent.

150 metres of descent in a kilometre and all of it on a track little wider than a tyre. The first part without obstacle, but a couple of stoppers and drops meant that more speed was needed than one might have at first thought.

I was waiting for anyone down here. Solely focussing on getting down without the dreaded dab. It was going so so well. I passed the previous points of ejection without ado. The crux, a drop with some rock stoppers was barely an event. Sneaky grass covered ruts that had twice snatched my front wheel last time were glanced at and avoided. Of course just as I thought I'd made it a lack of momentum and inattention forced me to put my foot down. Pah.

I had a little wait before the next rider came into sight. Simon crested the brow smoothly, before spectacularly leaving his bike behind whilst continuing over his handlebars. Nothing broken though. Everyone down safely, and the weather was closing in. A good ride, so far. No need to be greedy, there's always another day. We retreat to the George.

Happy Birthday for tomorrow you giffer.
That was Scary 2/365

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What? The Wrong Tyres?

I can't believe I wrote that title. Having read numerous threads on mountain bike forums over the years, I'm bored to death with reading about what is supposedly the best tyre for (insert name of place). I am of the opinion for general XC, that it's not about the tyres on ones bike, it's about the rider's skill. The End.

Well not quite. Yesterday Nick suggested I head over to Todmorden with him to ride some of the trails round there with the STW crew and assorted bike industry folk. I'd ridden there before all would be good.

After hammering the coffee machine at STW HQ we assembled outside to split into three groups. Basically rides of differing length and difficulty dependant on how one felt on the day.

I elected to ride on the Todmorden Tech ride which would show some of the hardest riding the valley has to offer. Roughly half of this group was made up of 'locals', and I noticed before we left that many sported what are the bike equivalent of agricultural tractor tyres. Heavy wide, squarish profile, and deeeeep tread. How odd.

Off we went on the road along the valley, and again up the first hill on the road. Oh yes, those tyres sucked it out of them boys, and no doubt those who heard us passing without seeing us thought they could here the sound of distant thunder.

As always after the up, there comes the down, and at first I had no problem staying with the locals. Bare rock, and sandy trails, exactly what i'm used to.

Problems started to arise with my controlling the direction of travel and velocity of myself and bike, when the line to ride was underlying slithery mud covered with the autumnal fallings from the trees above. I was out of control.

As the day progressed I only took a couple of tumbles, but the near misses were many. Mid afternoon I decided I'd run my luck dry for the day, and on more than one occasion opted to avoid the "I'll end up in Hospital if I don't make this" line.

A great day of proper technical riding which caused not only me, but near everyone in our group to involuntarily get off their bike at least once.

Next time I head over that way, i'm going get me some of those there big tyres.

Some pics of the boys below. Click for bigger.

Great Rock

One Crash Of Many

Fingers Flys