Wednesday, May 28, 2008


As ever, lots going on. Trina and myself joined the birthday celebrations for Ruth and 80's themed party, that went to extraordinary lengths to recreate that decade. Bubble machines, thatcher, amazing grazing food, muzak, disco, you-name-it. A superb time had.

Also a mention for Jenn, who is leaving very shortly for gdr. Good luck, girl, we'll all be rooting for you.

Then we popped to london town, and caught up with our friend nonni who is leaving soon for finland, and will be back with a wee baby girl sometime soon. She is in fine fettle and it was lovely to catch up - its been too long.

We stomped around in the rain, and i was all too aware my good friend chipps was with good friends martin and chris up north riding in cloudless skies...ill direct you to some pics once they get flickerized.

Needless to say, there are plans afoot for riding as ive got 2 days off to go play in the hills, too. Unfortunately, the weather is dreich at the mo, so we are going easy today and will do a large loop from kinlochleven manana. Should be a goody.

The cat - well, the wee poppit had a bit of an issue. She was catsat by our downstairs neighbours while we were away and she managed to whisk a frozen chicken breast off the counter through sunday evening. She was a it peekie when we arrived late monday and yesterday she yacked up a hairball, lots of mucus and some meat and then produced a pool of slurry that took a pretty good sense of humour to clean up. Thank the dark lord for plastic gloves.

Ok - i need more coffee....lots of stuff on the horizon. Im going to do some playing around with a heart rate monitor over the next few weeks, as ill be doing the bulk of the races i will do this year, and it will be pretty interesting to see how close to a heart attack i can get.

Im trying to find out more about headsets, specifically bearing angles on the king versus others, and the results of that are going to be lead to another project...more soon....

oh, and the fitness test? 27 minutes with about a minute and a half of messing about aiting for machines to come free.

The stats:
1.5km cycle - level 6 - 2 mins and change
500m row - level 10 - 1.32 secs
then 40 lat pull downs to nips - 30kg - this was a killer
40 full press ups - minutes, arms lactated to buggery by the above
50 step ups onto a 2 foot step with 10kg in each hand. Again the grip killed arms were fried
From there to 40 shoulder presses with 35kg. Same story...arms a mess
50 sit ups - ok - pretty quick
800m run at 8% on the treadmill - not as bad as expected - 5 mins 30 secs
bench presses with 25kg - sounds so little, but my arms were gone by now

Disappointed. i wanted 5 mins faster at least. It was interesting how tired my arms got, but i suppose although i work hard with the kettlebells, they are never single muscle group use, so i wasnt prepared really. Also i warmed up by spinning 24 kg kettles for 5 mins, running then rowing 500m as fast as i could, and then lots of stretches. That on top of a boozy week end probably cost me a minute. In addition i tried to do sets of 10 at each weight as fast as possible, then rest for 3-4 breathes - i reckon this was a poor strategy, as i slowed anyway, the breathers cost more time than they saved. Needless to say, i aint done with this one yet.

The pic? its either the cats vom, or me after the gym sesh...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lots and lots and lots.

Went to the gym this morning, and incorporated a new aspect into the routine. Interspersed sets of running and kettlebells. So, 4 x 500m runs at 14+ kph and varying of gradient, then sets of swings and clean and presses. Repeat for an hour.

It would have to be said, this leads to a fair old heart rate and lactic tolerance work out.

There is a motive behind all this. The gym are running a fitness challenge (as they sometimes do) and i think i may have a bash at this one. The previous one was centered around the tour de france, but riding on a machine is never the best, so this will be my first. I can feel the competitiveness in me beginning to stir - leading to all sorts of failure/self analytical moments. I reckon i should do ok, but the fastest so far (set by a triathlete dude) is pretty quick.

So: cycle 1.5km on level 6, then row 500m at full resistance, lat pull downs with 36kg (i think), 40 press ups onto a 5kg weight so chest drop is measurable, 50 abs crunches, 50 steps, shoulder press with 35kg/40 reps, then an 800m run at 8% gradient and a 40 rep bench press with the olympic bar and 12.5kg on either end to finish.

The record so far is 17 mins. Ouch.

I reckon i will be 20 or so mins...the run i did after the k-bells today was 800m at 8.5% and it took 4.13mins so, the row will be under 4.30mins i would hope, maybe even less, giving me 11 minutes for the rest. Easey peasey right?

Date - next Tuesday, and ill try not to be shy with the time. I might aim to do it twice, as a preliminary run through may be good...the actual compo is 5th july, which ill miss, but its all about a healthy comparison, no?

What else? ive been tooling around on the ro sham bo with the best pair of Times i have. Its been like trying to balance my foot on a ball bearing...horrible. So it will be interesting how i get on with the Looks after a bit more time (ha!), as i dont think there is any going back. If Look follow every other manufacturer they will add a tension adjust at some point and i can ramp it up...

The bike packing hasnt been forgotten either. I may be heading out with chipps for a longer than average run next week, so it may well get pushed into service then, and in order to minimise packed weight and volume, ive been playing around with a few things. Now the temperatures are up, i think i can get away with a sleeping bag liner and the clothes i will always carry in case of surprise scottish weather, a hat and gloves. This will decrease weight by a pound. In order to do this I will keep the double skin tent, but i think i will pack the poles and the fabric separately. That will allow a much smaller volume behind the saddle. I noticed when i was riding staircase style technical stuff, i was tending to sit on the rear rack and its load, which was not ideal in terms of positioning or stess on the rack...its a project anyway.

The other thing is ditching the number of extras. Pad/pen/treats/Some extra clothing (again, the warmth at present will give me this ability). We'll see.

A concept or two has been germinating in my mind. One: at some point i want to own a Cog bike courtesy of cog bike cafe/damo. He is well into the 69er bike and i think a technical woods style bike may be the thing. As in a singlespeed rear freehub with maybe a single, or maybe 3-4 speeds - 26" with a 3"+ tyre - coupled with a jones front fork, 135mm spaced (perhaps with a different gear, or perhaps a full on wide hub he is having made by paul components), and a endo morph. Super low slung, ideally with a 2 step, or perhaps a crank bros dropping seat post, if they hold up...Oh yeah! take me to the woods!...the pic is from a guy called tison....

The other is the continuation of the lefty equipped racing bike. In order to get faster i will need to work on not only fitness (encompassing nutrition and rest), reducing the effects of day to day life (if youknowwhatimean) and i think i will need gears. Although i only have about 5 photos up of 245, i spent a couple sundays ago doing a bit of support for anja, who was racing the drumlanrig NPS race. It was interesting to see people go *fast*. Although some of us who ride singlespeeds (perhaps with the exception of the lalondes) might kid ourselves we push harder than geared riders, the truth is that *fast* geared riders push as hard, in a bigger gear a lot of the time. Coupled with suspension a 4-5 speeds would be a probable benefit. If and its a big 'if' i continue to try and do the odd short fast race (anything up to 65miles or so...over this i think the speed i would go would not be overly affected...unless i got a *lot* stronger). The lefty is the best suspension fork i have ridden for the weight at 2.7lbs minimum. Add this to a bb30/SI crank with 1 or maybe 2 speeds, and a 4 speed rear, the weight will be a negligible increase over singlespeed/rigid.

We'll see. First gots to pays the ways for sswc08 and shenandoah...and a kitchen!

Sunday, May 18, 2008



Ok, im going to get all Heston Blumenthal on you. Recently, i have had one or two poor bloody mary's. So has trina. It is a drink close to my heart, and as such i have been working long and hard to mix what i consider to be the best. I know g-funk has been doing the same. Over the last few months i have hit upon what i consider to be my quintessential 'mary, and in the spirit of hemingway (who was a great fan of the bloody mary) i want to share the recipe with you. Bear in mind this was not initially made by measurements. The measurements are represenatations of a free form cocktail mixing style.

Organic lemon and lime
clamato (or, tomato juice)
stolichnaya vodka
lea and perrins worcestershire sauce

Mix 350ml of clamato with 100ml of vodka over 4-5 cracked ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Ideally the vodka should be frozen and the clamato refrigerated.
Add the juice of half a lemon, seeds and all.
Add 25 ml of lea and perrins, then 5ml of tabasco.


Let stand.

Cut a quarter lime and squeeze into a highball glass.

Shake the shaker. Think like tom cruise for just a second. Gurn a little.

Pour into the glass - take a deep breath and be transported into a brave new world.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


First: happy birthday, mum!
Second: fixed cog is riding well. quiet and im finally getting used to the action. I have no idea how people ride fixed with no brakes. There is no way on earth you can stop as quickly and more importantly with as much control. I *may* end up taking the rear brake off, and that would primarily be to stop me wearing through the rim, which is, errr, on the concave side, but the front, nope.
Third: Look pedals. Much more solid interface when climbing. Pedal without curling toes, which causes less foot fatigue. I do unclip in technical situations sometimes. I think this is because i am used to being able to rock my feet around all over with the times. As i get into a ride, it lessens. I reckon with a bit of time ill get used to it. The disengagement is soft. I was riding with dave no chops the other day and he felt similarly. Less definite than shimano and egg. Havent ridden in any real mud, but to be honest i have no worries about that, there not really very much of them. So, not all rosy, but time will tell.
Fourth: briefly rode dave's hi-fi pro 29. Interesting bike. Smooth like buttah....screams through mild rock gardens, low bb, i feel like there is a lot of bike behind me...well worth checking out.
Fifth: Phil and anja off to etape caledonia, hamish for the bealach beag. Good luck one and all.
Sixth: seems that i will be heading to bristol bike fest to have a go at the 12 hour race with shaggy, phil and tymo. Thence to mountain mayhem for a bit of posing on an all-star team...aim is to ride this one, and minimise the mayhem....
Seventh: need to plan another overnighter. Bikepacking (as it seems to be being called) is definitely the way forward. A thread on mtbr started by who else but mikesee, is definite inspiration. Next time, ill be trying to lessen the load. I was a little perturbed at weigh in about the girth of my kit. IIRC the whole was 9.5kg 4.5 on my back, 5 on the bike. That did include all bags, tools, tubes etc. The aim is to drop at least 2.5kg from that. I dont *need* to, but i want to. Half the fun in doing all this is actually the planning and messing about.

I also need to find out how dejay, rebecca tomawikiwikiwiki got on in finale doing the 24 hour race there...

Go. Ride. Smile.

Monday, May 12, 2008


First big ride of the year.

Glasgow>milngavie, 60% off road

West highland way to inversnaid, all off road except 2-3 miles after taking the lambing detour round conic hill, thankfully.

Take road for 3.5 miles of tortured climbing from inversnaid>stronachlachar.

Drop into forest and pop out at aberfoyle for some refueling.

Head out and over to drymen, to re-join west highland way back to glasgow.

91/2 hours with sun the whole way. Tired now, cat on lap, both sleepy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Power to the pedal.

Since i very first started using clipless pedals i have used Time, and only Time. I have at times used different generations, other peoples, and even have a set of gary fishers Time pedals - don't ask...

So it was with mixed feelings last year that i decided to start looking for a new pedal to use. Things were not so rosy. The cleats wear quickly, and the new square retention wires are more stable initially but also wear quickly leading to slop and unexpected disengagements - which are never timely...

The first thought was eggbeaters. But they fall apart. Then there was shimano, especially the xtr. But i have always been put off by the number of small screws, bits and bobs. Then i heard look was going to be bringing out a new pedal which would use the egg beater cleats. Time went by and just as it seemed that the wait would be over, look recalled the pedals and redesigned the cleat to be more Time-like and less egg-like.

So a set of quartz pedals arrived. They are light. They are incredibly open. They are very grey. The cleats are large and flat, and there is a well described system for mounting them so that there is zero slop. This can be adjusted as your shoe wears.

As you can see from the photos, the shoe sits directly on the pedal with no movement on the look, whereas on the Time, there is a big gap. The Time is used, but not old, or particularly worn, the cleats are brand new and the sidis aren't that old either...mind the gap!

So, give me a year and we'll see....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I suspect there were several of us at the ssuk who wondered what we could expect. Its been 20 years since MBUK first came out. A lot of things have changed - and - a lot of things have not. People still love a reason to gather in a field somewhere and eat, drink and ride and race bicycles. There is something energizing about it, something that sweeps through the soul, removing cobwebs and shadows.

But, this singlespeed long can it last? There is no doubt there is a new guard these days. Fortunately, it would seem they have a damn fine outlook on what they want these events to represent.

Drumlanrig castle is a world class venue for any race. The grounds are beautiful, the castle has excellent facilities whilst retaining a real "away from the city" feel. The riding there is excellent, as is the proximity to other riding areas, and the course is fun. By fun i mean capital letters fun. Winding ribbons of dirt through old trees. Technical features which are not of the perfect-radiused-cookie-cutter-trail center variety. However, it retains a very important element in my book: flow.

We arrived on friday evening, pitched tent at outcast/cheeky corner and went to work. Beer, meat chat, whisky, guffaws, pictures, candles, raised eyebrows, new faces, well loved faces, carnage, memory loss, giggles. All good. Saturday saw a group of us taking in the fantastic sun dappled trails at a leisurely pace with many opportunities to stop, chat, laugh, and partake of the odd nip.

Sam, kenny, julie, tom and rik had put on a ceilidh for the saturday night and several of us whirled and burled into the wee hours, whilst others just collapsed at the campsite. All was well with the world.

The forecast had been terrible, and although none of the gales or downpours materialised, sunday was damp and the course is always much more of a strain when the roots are slippy and the ground sucky. 3 laps for us with a traditional le mans start, a bike pile (this year it was 69ers) and a huge rammy for the singletrack. Some 250 racers battled around the course, with anja and phil the horse giving us winning performances.

The after party is always a fine affair with a bbq provided, beer, prizes from ever-generous sponsors, a lot of yelling and a band leading to some extremely dodgy dancing.

All too soon, it was time to pack up and move leaving me with a feeling that, at least for a while, the future is in good hands.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Off to ssuk...

More after.