Monday, May 31, 2010

Woulda shoulda couldnta.

Would have liked to ride today. It was all sunny and warm. But there was stuff that needed to be done...

Ah well, soon...

From Here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It is a little known fact that i dont have a one track mind.

I am also interested in coffee. And beer. And maybe music.

It was with great pleasure that i received an offering from gfunk savalas: "taste this!" he cried, "for it is the liquid form of pleasure!"

And you know, he spook sooth.

Get yourself some love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Man cave.

I burried myself in the man cave this evening and finally got the spooky skeletor together....had a short spin, and thankfull, i like it. It feels comfortable, and the handling is razor sharp, but not at the expense of stability. Good....should make a nice office to get some work done. Mickey sends the graphics separately, but Im thinking i might leave it dark and mysterious......

I also decided to follow through with my promise to try different bars on BA. First up, the Luv Handles from Groovy. The grips need removed, despite being freshies - when you get used to ESI nothing else will do.

Apart from that, they feel slightly narrow. Weird given that they are the same as jones bars width wise. Must be the sweep....still, i'll ride them and see. There is a glimmering of an idea as to what will end up in place, but thats going to require some thought...

Aesthetically they suit the bike, atmo, but if they dont cut the mustard they will be swapped out.

When i had them on the IF cross bike i found them too stiff for anything too rough, or longer than 3 hours but the reba should mitigate that...

So ends an evening of messing about....Have i said how much i like my effeto mariposa torque wrench?


The Museum of Arts and Design in New York is hosting an exhibition titled 'Bespoke: the handbuilt bicycle'. Jeff has a bike there....heres a short video...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Ertzuii films. Some mad, some bad and some rad.


There is no plan B.

After a non alignment of stars for a planned monday ride with chipps, i decided it was time to hurt myself. Bristol 12 bikefest is just around the corner and i have absolutely no idea what to expect from my body. One way to find out is to push it until it breaks: that way you know your limits.

I decided to take a route we have done once before, as a group, on singlespeeds no less. However this time i wanted to add a little i took in an extra climb or two just because.

The start was in Dalrigh, just south of tyndrum. There is a short but sweet section of trail from there to tyndrum, and the climb up before the magnificent view of beinn dorain.

From there i clicked the gears up on the Vertigo and booted it to bridge of orchy. By 1 hour i was at victoria bridge carpark, prior to the infamous wades road section over to white corries and glencoe. Why infamous? well general wade has the rare distinction of creating some of the harshest surfaced and ridiculously steep roads in scotland. All this so england could garrison the north in their efforts to defeat the jacobite uprising of 1715. The vibrating, hateful, momentum robbing pain of passing what are left of these roads (and the soldiers who built them would be, err, proud to know that significant stretches still exist) are a real test of a tired biker, and i knew the return leg was going to hurt.

There is always a rush as the buachaille comes into view. Such a monster sat out at the top of glencoe: a guardian of the highlands, and this storied glen. My route cut east though, across rannoch moor.

The trail is initially good, a double track road, and someone has built a reroute section due to a house being constructed in the crop of trees visible from the road or the kingshouse.

Then it starts to deteriorate. You know you need to follow the power lines, but its a real mess. Peat moor usually is. Grin and bear it. To give some idea, here is a section of the trail....


Onwards and upwards though, despite a locked and electrified deer fence which forced a pretty gymnastic approach to getting me and a bike through the opening above a 7 foot gate.

After a quick lunch i headed east from rannoch station for the start of the trail up past beinn pharlagain and then cutting slightly west to loch ossian. The warrior poet looked on as i struggled with the evidence of the recent passage of motorcycles. The land here is wet and boggy: clearly some sort of race had passed and the trail in places was 30+feet wide, 4-6 feet deep and basically in tatters. i doubt i rode for more than 10 meters before having to get off for another clamber and foot soaking...

I doubt ive ever seen a trail so summarily destroyed. A real downer.

Still the view over to the north side of the aonach eagach was spectacular.

From there to loch treig left me looking for small stones to put in my ears to drown the noise of the headwind. That at least made the decision to get off the bike again and push up into the feith chiafain easy. I might be pushing up improbably steep and broken trail, but at least there was peace!. Again the passage of motor cycles was evident. The trail had been beaten up, with loose rocks a foot in diameter littering the trail and many gouged, deep trenches cut by motorised passage. Where the trail was rutted, they had simply passed by, usually above on the hill side, knocking all sorts of crap onto the trail and making what is usually a technical challenge, a brutal episode. Some sections (like the one below) were relatively unscathed, and its a real pleasure riding high mountain singletrack.

After crashing over the bars, and pinning myself face down in a river momentarily (jones bars and the top tube make a great ankle catcher) i made it back onto the west highland way. I had been hoping to drop down the blackwater descent to kinlochleven, but i was already 9+ hours in and i had been out of water for over an hour. That would add an hour of down, and a chunk more of up. I couldnt afford any more altitude loss, so back up and over to the devils staircase (another wade classic!).

Again, the buachaille revived me and i dropped rapidly down to a pint of lemonade and a half of beer at the kingshouse before tackling white corries out of glencoe. The staircase has been given a new coat of gravel - the sure brakes and sorted geometry of the bike allowed me to really punch it on this section of track. Slowly, im getting used to the speed and coping with the ragged nature of this sort of riding.

Engaging the fast gears allowed me to skip over wade's road back to bridge of orchy and then in failing light, i decided to take the road and dropped down to tyndrum and then to dalrigh. 11 hours 58 minutes. I wouldnt say it was pleasant but it was definitely a test of mettle.

Then all i had to contend with was the fact that i was running on vapours, and they had closed the A82 road to glasgow....though of course the sign said delays expected, so i did a lot of needless miles before getting home at 1am thoroughly foobared.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

We used to race 24 hour races....

Generally we used to have some sort of vague theme going.

The white overalls rocked....still have em somewhere....for more see naegears.

We were young and our bodies could take the punishment: beers every lap, an almost entirely meat based diet...and a week of recovery.....

Its the 24 solo champs this weekend....friends grant3, jac, Mr Makin and various others are racing. I grew tired of zipping around in tiny circles a few years ago, but part of me wishes i was there....

Heres the 'trailer'....i'll be interested to see how they get on. Newcastleton isnt the uk-typical farmers field course... from on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hitting the hills...

I'm going to write this ride up fully later....its late, and i have an appointment with a beer....

I love it...

I love watching the skilled riders when its tough conditions....amazing skills..

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Something new...

And its not a bike....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rob's video.

Check. My. Skillz. (Good cx remount though?)

Ae Avalanche Enduro mucking about from robert hamilton-smith on Vimeo.

Monday, May 10, 2010


What do you think of this then?

Accepting for a second the observers validity, thats pretty cool. It might help me shed some more kilos and finally duck under 90kg...

In saying that, tonights Yucatan style chicken (sit chicken in a mix of grapefruit/orange juice with lots of garlic, some cloves, a bit of cinnamon, some achiote some chipotle en adobe and black pepper - fry) with corn tortillas and bits&bobs is no way to stay svelte.

But i reckon i deserve it. This weekend burned some calories for sure...the Ae Avalanche Enduro. Format: friday and saturday course opens for practice. Basically it consists of select parts of the big loop and 'the shredder' one of the downhill runs there. You have a generous amount of time to make it between the timed sections where you race 2 up. Your compatriot is found by doing a seeding run on the saturday afternoon, after practice.

The timed sections are not long - about 3-6 mins....but some are pretty balls-out hard efforts. A lot of fuss is made of stage 4 (of 6) that includes a (gasp!) climb. But for me, stage 6 is the issue - the shredder. i can get down it, and indeed do the jumps on it courtesy of the new bike (well all except the road gap, but that is taken out of the race after a bloke rips half his face off) but i cannot descend it anywhere near in control at race pace.

Saturdays practice (which takes me 3 or so hours) is useful. I'm getting to know the Vertigo, and to be honest i'm pretty overwhelmed by what this bike can and will allow me to do. It is best on hard & fast mountain terrain, rather than table tops and ultra rough dh type terrain, but the limit is definitely the pilot. I crash in qualifying on one of the '7 stanes-typical no edge (tm) corners on loose stones', then again trying to take a poor line on a slimey fresh cut drop in - much to the baying crowds enjoyment.

In the end, i'm top hardtail (though there are precious few) in 74th. Top 25% is good for me. My friend Rob Hamilton Smith smashes into the top 20 and Nico Vouiloz is in 7th ( i think) after on-sighting the seeding run...yep. No practice...amazingly fluid rider....and fellow Moulineer Lyndsey is right up there in the dames (the race organisers term, not mine!).

Race day after an early start: My fellow rider is Stuart Bond - a good bloke. A veteren of several Avalanche and mash up type events, he is really helpful keeping me right. We decide (as many other pairs do - due to the narrow tracks and lack of passing opportunities) to take it turn and about for leading into the sections. We have good banter and are pretty evenly matched, though i use the xc fitness and hardtail to my advantage on stage 4.

On stage 5, stuart has the lead. Unbeknownst to him, i launch off a steep transition on one of the table top jumps. These seem to be more bmx suited than mtb to my mind and many others, and they are pretty unpleasant if you dont soak them up. Needless to say i am skywards and over rotating before i touch down off course heading down a fortunately grassy slope over the course tape and into a small gully. Regaining the course gives me a lot of work to do, but i come in a second or 2 down on Stuart with only the Shredder to come. It is my turn to lead, but i gladly hand this over and Stuart dissappears off nto the distance. A poor line choice loses me more time and my nerves start to jangle as i hit some of the bumps too fast and ragged. Into the final drop on Omega man trail and there is a crowd. At some point i have picked up a puncture and the rear end is fishtailing as i try to soak up the drops. Onto the ladder trail with a last minute adrenalin kick as my completely flat rear tyre refuses to steer me off the end without a caveman effort to keep from flying face first into the brush.

I lost some time on that last stage (probably close to 30 seconds) but that was to be expected. Even so, i made it into 58th place - which i'm pretty pleased with. Next time i need some burlier tyres (stiffer sidewalls really) and some bigger cojones. Lyndsey did really well (i'm sure she will post something soon) and Rob punched it into 13th on a borrowed bike. Given the calibre of the field that is a pretty impressive result!.

Some guy called Nico won, and i'm sure he'll go onto great things.

Good fun indeed.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Gottit. Rode it. Was blown away...

More details soon...

Meanwhil, if you are keen, look here.

Mo' mojo...

You'll be wanting to see this...