Wednesday, June 27, 2007

mountain mayhem x

So we trundled down to Ledbury for mountain mayhem X. Ten years since we sat huddled in wet tents, around a pile of debris once recognisable as bicycles, with a developing and now permanent aversion to eddie izzard. We joined the usual suspects at hecklers corner and after chris presented us with our new Telly Savalas overalls (ace work) we hit the beers and turned up the chat meter. Seems for some this got a little out of hand as an intruder raged into our campsite and started pushing one of our number around as he couldnt get to sleep on account of our impromptu fire work display.

I dont know. Is the joke wearing thin? how far do we have to camp from the 'serious' folk to behave as we please (ish).

After a relatively dry evening the morning brought rain and the trails barely had time to (sort of) dry out before the start. The event was huge and as we were camped in a corridor of the course, we had an epic time heckling and jeering at friends and unknowns both. Megaphones in full effect, with the cardboard jump of doom and the offering of bloody marys (courtesy of biff) i think we did it right.

Telly was taking a year off more serious racing and our numbers this year were the full complement of 5. Albeit in a 4 man team. Still, precious few laps were done before we decided to call it a day (with a last shout of 'lights are for pussies' from one of our number as he sped off to complete a dusk lap with no lights. Good job we did head to our kip sacks, as the rain really started to get going and it was clear the forecast for biblical downpours wasnt going to avoid us.

Sunday morning was pretty hideous, though a couple of laps were done. Better was the football and bottle rocket shenanigans with the bacon boys and toby after the race was done.

All in all, great fun...emotional even...

Monday, June 18, 2007


Hmm. Actually went for a bike ride today, down to drumlanrig.

1st: i was a mess. Not sure if im viral, or just tired/unfit, but turning the pedals was a chore and a half today. Managed 2 laps of the red~black route, which is always entertaining and the roots and rocks and twists and turns didnt fail to keep me on the edge after 2 days+ solid rain. Pretty disappointed in my form. Or lack of it...there is of course a solution to that. Drink less beer, sleep more and ride more. Simple.

2nd: I utilised the Thule 545-1 wheel holders today. Much easier than everything in boot, and much less air resistance than an entire bike on roof. Ace. The carriers needed modified though, as they are all made for front wheels, so a bit of judicious filing and painting and a good bit of brute force to widen to 135 mm and its a good'un.

3rd: Put the first miles on the maxxis cross mark on the rear. Seem good, better climbing traction than anticipated, pretty good cornering/lean, light, slef clearing except in real goop, and very decent braking.


Because im interested, heres a link to the Great Divide Race. I reckon it may end in a new fast time. We'll see. Dave Nice may well be the first fixed to finish too, hopefully. Best of luck one and all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

SSUK v shaggy & mel

Last weekend we made the drive to Bristol where we were treated to fine weather, fine beer and cider, fine riding and exemplary organised but super chilled racing at the ssuk version shaggy and mel. BIG hugs to all those who threw in so many prizes and so much effort to allow all the derelicts to have a great time and walk away with schwag, a few bruises and a massive smile.

The riding down there is very good, and buttcombe beer is pretty much the best i have ever tasted...possibly with too much gusto as i managed to sleep through the race. Ach well, it did nothing to reduce my grin at all the funny goings on...especially this...

(photo pinched from CC)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Answers on a postcard

Biff asked me the other day why i wanted to look into suspension. I havent consistently ridden a bike with suspension for oooooooo, 2 1/2 years or so?

What sort of rider am i?
What sort of person am i?

For the last 4-5 years i have been chasing good performances at endurance races. Solo 24, 100km, 100 mile and trying to piece together kit and fitness consistent enough to get into multi day events. All on a singlespeed with rigid forks because that's what i like riding.

The question i have been asking myself after the last 2 races is: am i at my ceiling in terms of finishing well with a rigid fork?

Sounds a little like a "bad workman" and i know there are a few super humans out there that win despite handicapping themselves, but when i get tired, i get sloppy and i get very bashed around. It becomes exponentially more tiring and i get punctures and crash occasionally. This is not how you win.

Some suspension would mitigate that. Its not how i would ideally choose to do it, but it looks like i may need to compromise my self assessment a little. Gears? nope. cant do the wear and tear and issues during events.

The alternative is to do as well as i can with what i have already chosen to ride.

The issue is going around in my brain a lot at the moment. Top plan so far is a tIF with a lefty. Either 1.5" headtube, or a 1 1/8 and a project 321 converter. Not sure. But i have been doing some research and i am becoming more convinced that *if* i decide to get a suspension fork, it will be a lefty. If anyone is interested, i can produce a screed of links and discussions regarding this.

Off to ponder more...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My definition

Define yourself below:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More of Harlan's bike

Harlan was 7 mins behind big chris e at the Mohican 100.

That is a good placing indeed. Seems Eatough is gunning for the ultra 100 series this year. I dont think Harlan will let it go easily...

This is his bike (nabbed off 'team green' and boxedbee.)

Interesting. Makes me wonder - after racing on some rougher courses - whether suspension may be something to look into for a 29"er soon...lefty? duc32 (a la trek 69er)? we'll see.


Although its hard to imagine, there have been some upgrades to the IF.

Heres one of them...

You pop the end caps off your DT 240 hubs, push on the new ones that dont have the 9/10mm stubbs then slide in the axle (either 9 or 10mm depending on front or rear). The lever is a simple ratchet affair, directly threaded onto the axle, which has an enormous mechanical advantage. So you are in essence converting to a potentially much stiffer set up.

I will report back.

Finale 24 hour solo

Haven't posted many words on this at all. My thoughts have been allover the place. There have been a million things to do, so it just never happened. However, it is time to put finger to keyboard.

We arrived after an incredibly painless flight and car hire in Nice, followed by a 140km drive north into Italy in the lovely wee town of Finale. In actual fact there are 3-4 distinct parts but in essence there is some settlement between 3 large eastish/westish ridges, which are criss crossed with old trails, before the land gives way to the blue, blue sea.

We were staying in a self catering apartment in the old town area and there was any number of boutique shops, easy going small restaurants and coffee establishments to let the hum drum of normal life slip silently from our brows and shoulders.

Transporting the bike was the usual no problemo in the trico, and the day before, the day before the race i put it together, torqued a bolt or two and wound gradually up the road to test it out.

As ever, the seemingly never ending s bends that are ubiquitous in the south of france, italy and spain kept me climbing towards the sun. My j-macs and 1 water bottle soon ran out, but i had hit the trails by then and they were just how i like them. Sinuous rocky and technical.

A large snake fell out of a tree at one point. Im not sure which one of us was more suprised.

Prior to my complete dessication i headed for home and then we enjoyed an amazing meal where you picked the wine from the cellar and there was no menu, just what the chef had caught from the sea that morning.

The day after we headed up to the race HQ to find a nearly empty field, the expo area, and a long thin field stuffed with tents. The majority of racers seemed to be in motor homes, parked on the edge (in some areas precipitously) of the access road. Nevertheless, i pitched the trusty north face mtn marathon coffin tent and then we signed me on. Pretty time consuming, but hey, its the old world.

After a couple of glasses of vino tinto and early-ish night led to a solid sleep and awakening raring to go. A classic day, blue sky, sun and excellent coffee.

The race itself i am going to summarise. The course was short (7km), rocky, with braking bumps, an inch or so of dust and a lot of singletrack which was either steep up or steep down, but never sustained in terms of gain or loss. In other words, it was fast. There was no way to chill out on a 34:18 29" wheel. There were a lot of good fast riders, and the solo class was pretty stuffed with capable and prepared athletes, much more so than i am used to in the UK.

After 5 hours the dust took its toll. I had intended to race the full 8 hours until i needed lights, at which point i was going to eat some pasta, have a beer, and go out for another 7 hour stint for the night. So much for that!

I stopped for 1/2 hour at 5 hours in and had a LOT of fluid. The dust and the heat (31degrees C) meant i was dehydrating rapidly. The technical course and fast pace led to a struggle to drink any amount per lap.

Another few hours and i stopped for pasta and (in an unheard of move) went for a shower. I hoped the dew would lessen the dust a little, but after refueling and going out again, it was just as prevalent. Indeed the lights overnight meant it was kind of like driving in fog...

So, at 2.30 am i sort of clanged to a halt. Trina was asleep in the tent, and i thought it'd be grand to have a snooze in my puff jacket and pata~guide pants. Ha! after 50minutes i awoke shivering lying on the ground. I almost got in my kit bag to warm up, but figured if i just sat there id eventually get fed up enough to go out on the bike again. Nothing went through my head at all...

Well, oddly and slightly embarrassingly, i didnt go out til after 6 am. At which point i felt great and battered off 10 or 11 laps.

During the off time i had been down in the mid thirties, at the end i was 23rd or 24th. Ok, in some ways, as there were some quality riders, but way off what i wanted to do.

To be honest, although it was super good to be in the dry (and although the dust was a challenge, it was never onerous to the stage of fury like some of he UK mud), and the race course was excellent - technical, involving etc if short - i am unclear if i will ever do another 24 hour multi lap race. This was my 3rd solo, and i have done one pair, which is arguably harder, but more are racing for someone else too, so its less of a brain cramp.

I dunno, its always this way soon after...ill never do it again, then 3 months later the cheque is in the post.

We'll see.

Post race was just eat sleep wine and chill. A classic way to recover!

I am really looking forward to the chance to go back to Finale, the trails accom, food etc are magic...maybe finale stock?