Monday, December 22, 2008


So there i was, balanced at the top of a 2 foot drop off, following a steep slider down from the tight singletrack through the woods. It was the first time i had ridden the fixed off road in anger and a couple of issues had plagued the ride so far. Firstly, the dreich. Fortunately i had a pair of pearl izumi gtx shoes on - winter boots lined with thinsulate, and wrapped in goretex. Toasty tootsies, despite the wet.

Secondly, having changed the chainring that morning, i had not considered whether this would change the chain line. Which, due to several dropped chains i had found it did. All that for 1-2mm. Ah well. Schoolboy error/live and learn.

So there i was.

The riding at mugdock is not epic. It is a small park area on the outskirts of glasgow. However, it is both close to my home, and the trails there are good. Woodsy, tight, slippery, rocky technical with grunts up and steeps down and enough exposure to keep you interested.

One of those sections runs down a fall line, the over a collapsed wall. Hence the 2 foot drop.

The learning curve i am on for riding fixed off road seems to be steep. Perhaps exponential. I came off the bike more today in 2 short hours than i have in the last 2 months of riding generally. Several of the falls hurt bad enough for me to question my reasoning and longevity. Still. I want to do this. Not least to boost tecnique, but also out of sheer bloody mindedness. It *is* fun, just in a grunt grrrr exhale BAM ouch sort of way.

So there i was.

On the edge. I knew my cranks would rotate and the pedal would hit the ground just as i tried to roll the edge. This would perhaps launch me sky ward. So, experimenting with new technique, i decided to hop the rear wheel up and counter rotate the cranks before taking the drop. This would leave my cranks enough room to rotate around the drop.

As i hopped, the front wheel started sliding forward over the edge. No way i could stop it, so i jumped over the front of the bike. The run out is short and has a number of rocks in the grass. These allowed me to use my shins to arrest my forward progress quite quickly. Somehow, i had caught the saddle behind me as i jumped, and dragged the bike with me. Good:- it missed the rocks. Bad:- it hit me.

Ouch. That hurt.

As blood oozed out of my leg, and after a quick check of my other limbs, i went off to find the other techy bits.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peace, love and death metal.

I know you love it, so - eagles of death metal are touring next march in the uk.

We saw Gogol Bordello last night. My ears may recover, and its true to say the gypsy punks from the lower east side via ukraine are tremendously entertaining. Catch em if you can.

After mull, it took a fair amount of time to reaquaint with this time zone. Nevertheless, we are finally beginning to see a slight drop in demand at the surgery, which is good. Its like a pile driver at the moment. Always is at this time of year.

Riding? PAH! not a bit, though the pacenti neo moto and the equalizer rim arrived c/o Kirk Pacenti and they are a nice combo. It should pull the fixed/fat back a little as its a trifle slow steering at the moment. Not so much on account of geometry, more as the enormous contact patch creates enough steering drag when turning that a 1/2 degree more head angle will help.

Really liking the fixed off road. I guess its mostly people like Tomi of cog fame, and the harrisonburg massif (the old hugh jass lives on) and endurance man dave nice who have inspired this. Also, it will give me a chance to enjoy slow and slippy, technical rides in winter that would usually become a little dull.

Ive ridden those trails and they are fun. Riding them fixed? you have to see it.

Anja is staying at the moment, having finished her tenancy and being pre a london move. She dominated the socttish female riding scene, and now shes comin' to gitcha. We'll all miss her, but its one of those things isnt it? having friends all around the world is a beautiful thing.

Im eagerly watching jeff's blog at the moment. Things seem to be pretty dynamic there and, in keeping with a lot of folks i know, moving towards 'bike-packing' type riding is becoming the thing. Check the truss fork bags. Ace.

Feel the need to rest and relax. Soon i will spend a bit of time with friends in ardnamurchan. A remote spot on the west coast of scotland, ill try and gather some thoughts, make some plans and try and read some books that might inspire me. There doesnt seem to have been any time to take stock, let alone sit still, for so long now im not even sure i know how to do it anymore.

So. enjoy the coming week as things (hopefully) wind down to geamhradh proper and we try and get everything sorted for the puffer.

Physics? dont need no stinking physics...

Monday, December 15, 2008


Back. What a week end. We owe davey graham and crew a thank you for putting on a great event.

There were a few casualties from the excess of booze consumed on friday night, as the cold rains lashed the island, but the race was fantastic with good performances from the vc moulin squad and the usual suspects.

I managed to get round on the fixed blob-o-bike and actually enjoyed it.

Picture is marty's. He needs to work on his heckling though, what does clown bike mean eh?

Cross season is over. It was great.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dundee and fatitude.

So, we decamped for dundee and the cross championships. After 13 races, there is but one left. This race crowned the champs and ross creber stormed the course like, well, like a pro. Even with his eyes shut.

Anja continued her winning streak and all in all it was a reasonable race. Some fool raced in short shorts and a hawaiian shirt as a nod to the man with the best 'tache in the business - magnum, PI. Most of the usual suspects were in attendance. Well, i say most, because the mo'vember challenge for the cross finals was attended by ..... me. Does that mean i win, despite my rather wispy effort?

Who knows...

I also spent today making the roshambo into a fat front/26" rear bike. In order to do so i utilised some london fixed kit. The ratio is 38:18 and it seems good. I spent some time on some steep slidey trails and some stairs today as a 'feasibility' ride. Onwards...

At the moment i am investigating some wtb 27mm wide/550g rims due out soon, according to mike at black mountain cycles in point reyes station, CA, as i think the ultimate set up for this type of bike might be a 650b rear wheel. We'll see...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Just asking

Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea* one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”?* In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make great sacrifices in order to preserve our democratic way of life—sacrifices not just of our soldiers and money but of our personal safety and comfort?
In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?
Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price? Is monstrousness why no serious public figure now will speak of the delusory trade-off of liberty for safety that Ben Franklin warned about more than 200 years ago? What exactly has changed between Franklin’s time and ours? Why now can we not have a serious national conversation about sacrifice, the inevitability of sacrifice—either of (a) some portion of safety or (b) some portion of the rights and protections that make the American idea so incalculably precious?
In the absence of such a conversation, can we trust our elected leaders to value and protect the American idea as they act to secure the homeland? What are the effects on the American idea of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Patriot Acts I and II, warrantless surveillance, Executive Order 13233, corporate contractors performing military functions, the Military Commissions Act, NSPD 51, etc., etc.? Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?
1. Given the strict Gramm-Rudmanewque space limit here, let's just please all agree that we generally know what this term connotes—an open society, consent of the governed, enumerated powers, Federalist 10, pluralism, due process, transparency ... the whole democratic roil.

2. (This phrase is Lincoln's, more or less)
by David Foster Wallace


Looks like the piccies are sorted, eh?

Beer me.

Been drinking beer from the Williams Bros brewery in Alloa (a~LOW-ah as some would have it ;-)~ ). They have a couple of gems. The good times, and seven camels particulary. What interested me was their grozet initially, a beer using goosevberry as part of the preservative.

Tonight, im on joker, a premium pale ale, and very nice it is too. Dark golden, zesty, not too hoppy but with floral hints and a profundity to the taste that is very satisfying. Recommended. 5% 500ml costs you £1.89.

Waltz with Bashir.

We saw Waltz with Bashir last night. A moving and thought provoking film, that also acted as an education for me. I had no idea about the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, 2 refugee camps for Palestinians in west Beirut on 15-16 september 1982.

In essence, the Israeli Defense Forces allowed Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen to enter two Palestinian refugee camps, where they massacred somewhere between 800 and 2000 people. Women, children and men.

It has been said that it was some form of revenge after the killing of Bashir Gemayel, who was looking likely to become president and was the Phalangist leader. It has also been said that the motives were more complex and politically driven. Whatever, another dark hour for humanity.

If the human race ever ends up in the dock, we are going to have a hard time persuading the jury we are anything but a selfish, nasty, power hungry group of xenophobic arseholes.

Go see.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Raced at plean. One of my favourite courses. Fast, twisty, through the trees. Even better, it was cold. As in c o l d. Minus 5. Needless to say the slack babbath t (sleevless, natch) was the purrrfect choice. Dunno where i came yet. If you separate the seniors out from the vets and juniors and women, im sitting in 10th for the season. Happy enough with week - the champs in dundee. The tache is nearly there...i think i might keep it at this rate.

I used some embrocation at the week end. Good timing for that purchase eh? Its pretty good indeed. Infact, i'd say its indispensable for the winter rider....

The day prior i made a new chilli con carne. Pretty simple, so i'll run through it here. Worth a try. Cook onions slowly. I used a mix of bacon fat and olive oil, which worked well. Add good quality beef mince. For 4 people id use 2 good size onions and 500g meat. Then, colour the meat, add mexican or normal oregano, some heated and ground cumin to taste and chilli powder. The recipe calls for quite a lot - half a cup. I used slightly less with success. Then a cup of beef stock, 3 cans of beans (i used 2 black beans, and 1 baked beans) and some tomato or passata - maybe 400g or so. A healthy table spoon of brown sugar and a few glugs of red wine vinegar.

Cook it down for maybe 1/2 an hour and have with corn tortillas and a fresh salsa (in this instance evil jungle prince - mint, cucumber, radish, habanero, white onion, tomato and cilantro doused in some lime juice) or maybe rice.