Friday, July 29, 2011


Yurp. It's an M985 xtr shadow rear derailleur. So what? It's on Aaron Gwin's bike. It isnt stock. It's got a Saint short cage melded to what will be the standard parallelogram body. Whats so tough about that? it's been done before (see sicklines modded M972 xtr/Saint mech).

Well, i'm not so sure...see, the bolt that holds the body to the cage usually marries up to a stub axle on the outer cage, concentric with the pulley centre. If you look at the shimano tech docs for all these mechs, the Saint cage should be compatible with most xtr bodies, but the shadow has a different stub axle on the outer cage - much smaller in diameter. The attachment bolt seems quite different. I'm guessing that is because the mechanism that controls the damping of the movement of the mech is situated in the same area. 'Course at £135 for the shadow and £100 for the Saint, i dont want to attempt this and find it doesn't work without impossible-for-me modifications.

But why do i even want to do this in the first place? Well, i ride in Scotland. Scotland is home to heather. Heather and derailleurs don't mix at all well. Minimising contact between heather and derailleurs is paramount, especially if you are going to be out in the boonies. I really like the idea of using an i-spec mount for the new Vertigo, with a 1x10. 1x10 doesn't need the chain take up of a GS or SGS cage. Would i be willing to give up the Saint short cage to get the 10 speed ? (the throw geometry is differnt with the new 10 speed dyna sys, so i cant use all the 10 speed stuff with the 9 speed mech, and the i-spec mount isnt compatible with 9 speed shifters). Probably...

I'm also doing some surgery on an old M801 Saint mech. I want to thank Tim at Sideways Cycles for his help locating this part. Its for the pink bike, which is singlespeed specific, but on the odd occasion i want to be able to mount gears. The DT thru axles should mary up nicely and allow quick, easy conversions to 6 or 9 speeds. Sweet.

First stage is removing the SGS cage and bolting on an old ss cage. There is a 2mm allen bolt under the body that acts as a lock - easily done. Next is putting some different jockey wheels on. Upper will go to an alloy 11 tooth, Lower will be a 13 tooth alloy unit. Dunno, just want to give em a try.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What am i looking at?

A possible solution. More once i've collected my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Video killed the radio star.

It seems everyone is doing videos these days. Seeing as my camera has the capacity and my energy levels are so low i was never going to move rapidly when i got out today, i thought i might as well give it a shot.

Untitled from jonmeredith on Vimeo.

More to come?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

5 kilo.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, right? I beg to differ. I haven't been physically unwell continuously for a week, errr, ever. At least as far as my memory stretches back. This week i have spent the majority - no hyperbole - of the time between 1am and 6am up, in pain, vomiting and as of 4.30am this morning having diarrhoea. Yeah, yeah, it's probably just a bug. Well, i do what i do for a living and i know that, but this is getting pretty damn tiresome. In 6 days i have lost 5 kilos. That weight loss would have served me well at this weekends VC Moulin ride - 200km of beautiful roads and hills organised by the DS. I ain't no Schleck, but hauling 84 kilos over a big hill is a lot easier than 89 kilos. Power to weight ratios. Power to wait? Hmmm...i really wanted to be there and i am looking forward to photos and reports.

Of course, despite the mockery of a review by the surgical team at the hospital that had me taking my own leave of the ward, i will get better. And of course, in reality, this is trivial- a mere blip on an otherwise healthy and blessed existence, but i'm tired, y'know?

Coincidentally, i was reminded of Fast Boy Ezra's blog somehow the other day. You want to read about fortitude in the face of ill health, an insightful and inspiring comment on life's curve balls, then i suggest paying attention to his blog.

In the meantime, i am enjoying the dying stages of the tour, i'd really like to see Cadel in yellow. There are few riders in the tour that work as hard, as consistently, as him and i believe in him. Unlike Bertie. As brash as Cavendish is, i also strongly want to see him retain the green jersey. He is a showman, ├╝ber talented, yes - a loudmouth, but so exciting to watch.

Shaggy leaves for the Colorado trail race soon. Many years ago now, we sat around a camp fire in Wales, on a bike/rave weekend Chipps organised (where we met at a service station in north england with no idea where we were all headed and convoyed to a pub with grounds that allowed us to ride, drink beer and chill for a weekend). An inspired idea - thanks Chipps!

Late, late in the night shaggy and myself regaled 2 local lads of our complicated and entirely fabricated tales of solo and ultra-minimalist adventures across the world. How we funded our adventures based off a double bladed scalpel design and had married each others sisters. At the time, it was almost a battle of wits to see how one of us responded to the others opening gambit: for example... "so Jon, tell them about that time we were on top of Denali in a storm, with our bikes and we had to call in the choppers...?"

Course, the ironic thing is shaggy is doing his damnedest to turn fantasy into reality - and with a great deal of success. I wish him tail winds and fine, blue skies.

Yesterday, i watched the film Fair Game. It is not as good as it could have been, but it is *well* worth viewing and then it is well worth reading around the reality the film was based on. Yet another sickening inditement of what governments are capable of when they want to find means to an end. Also a great performance by Sean Penn.

Ok. Have a good weekend. Hopefully the next entry will be a little more dynamic.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Human Condition/fighting fire with fire.

I am bored. For the last 2 days i have had stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and yes the other. One of the perks of my job is an exposure to ill people, all the time. You sort of get a smorgasbord of bugs to choose from. Having eaten very little over the course of the last 30 hours i am feeling weak and a little dizzy. This morning as i sat sipping coffee, trying to ignore the pain in my guts something snapped. Fight. Fire. With Fire.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Back in 2006 i worked for Michael Mann as a Manliness Consultant. For the most part, i spent my days getting Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell ship-shape for Miami Vice. It would be fair to say that once filming for the day was over we enjoyed the odd drink or two. It was during this time that i developed my taste for Mojitos.

(Here, Colin is practising his 'determined and manly' look, essential in several scenes.)

'Course, you have to be careful not to get any errant sprigs of mint caught in your luxuriant moustache, but thats all part of being a man, right?

So how does one make a good Mojito?

First, take a highball glass and with the back of a spoon gently crush a few mint leaves with about a tablespoon of fine Caribbean sugar. You dont want pulp, just to brake the membrane of the mint leaves to release the oils.

Stir in 1 and a half tablespoons of fresh lime juice, a good slug of white or golden rhum and dissolve the sugar. Add ice cubes so the glass is half full, and then fill up with club soda.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

MTB Cut tv.

Always worth keeping an eye on MTB Cut tv...lots of good stuff....

This is the inimitable Joe Barnes riding a hill that is pretty near by....that hill is small but S T E E P....good stuff....

Monday, July 11, 2011

The path of most resistance: part II

After wasting a good 2 hours of sunshine this morning looking at maps, i finally dragged my sorry arse out to the hills. Every so often, and it is becoming more frequent, i get in a mither about riding in Scotland. I don't have quite as much time to ride as i used to and i also am about 100% done with driving distances every weekend in order to ride my bike. Which is sort of limiting in some ways, y'know?

Anyway. After discarding everywhere i could think of as a good idea over the 16 preceding hours i sat looking at a pile of OS maps becoming increasingly angry and desperate...i needed a route. I needed to get out on my bike and take in some solitude in the hills. A 5am wake up with Daisy, who decided she was wide awake and ready for mischief meant my energy levels were low - there wasn't going to be any massive efforts today, but i wanted interest and intrigue. Something new and perhaps helpful for planning a future loop.

After spending a great deal of time looking at the area around Crieff, i decided it was too far away, and probably more suited to a bike-pack or a cross bike ride. My gaze shifted back to Arrochar. The Arrochar Alps as they are known are situated to the west of Loch Lomond. Easily within striking distance and on a good day the scenery is superb. Of course the classic loop is the Ardgarten peninsula loop round to Lochgoilhead and back up over the rest and be thankful.

So. What was it to be. Scotland is quite often hard to cross in an east/west (or vice versa) way. All the great routes, passes and roads seem to be north/south. Often times, when planning a bigger loop, it is going sideways between the greater glens and passes that is the issue. At the top of Glen Croe, you can gain access to Glen Kinglas and from there you can cross east towards Loch Lomond, looping behind Ben Vane. I'd looked at doing this so many times in the past that today seemed like a perfect opportunity. The idea was to then drop south and climb up from Inveruglas and cross once again into Arrochar through Glen Loin.


Well, the climb up Glen Croe is both long and strenuous and my body was letting me know i didn't have much in the tank. The forecast had suggested a dry day so i was being pretty minimal By the time the rain hit i was pretty cold. Still, it cleared as i hit Glen Kinglas, and although the trail was far from technical, the view was spectacular as i crossed behind Beinn Chorranach. Onwards and upwards. And upwards.

My map was out of date. I had hoped to find an old walking trail down to the shores of Loch Lomond at Inverarnan, but there was a veritable motorway dropping at about 20% all the way parallel to the Strath Dubh-uisge, and i popped out just south of the Drovers with the rotors smoking. Down the road to Inveruglas and then the pinch up the access road to Loch Sloy all was going well. Yes, i had been bitten by my 3rd horsefly (where are they all coming from this year?) but it wasn't far now to the bealach and the (hopefully) rewarding drop down Glen Loin.

As i mentioned before, my map must have been a little out of date, because it showed the trail running under the power lines as they cross from the interchange next to the Inveruglas Water. As i dropped down the the river, with the hope of picking up the trail on the other side, not only were the greasy rocks and fast flowing water a problem, but as i looked at my arms i saw a carpet of thousands of midge. My face, neck, arms and legs were literally crawling. The nips were plentiful and i threw caution to the wind and leapt across the last section of river and commenced that freaky dance anyone who is outdoors in Scotland bewtween may and september will recognise as i batted and wiped. The hump up the west bank was hard and i hit a horrible bog/tussock double act under the power lines as i got over the bank. Lovely. Talk about the path of most resistance. After 30 minutes of brutal hike-a-bike and several near-submergings in bog water i got to some high ground and spotted the trail on the far northwest corner of the bog-field. Ah well, get on with it. 10 meters from the trail i saw that it did indeed wind all the way back, it was just very well hidden from view. Just to make sure, i followed it back to the river out of pure bitterness. Damn. It was also in an entirely different position to the maps suggestion...

Anyway, after a fairly rapid and loose drop down Glen Loin i was back at the car in Succoth. 4 and a half hours of effort and a pretty reasonable loop. Although it was far from a technical, best-trail-ever sort of ride, it was great to have been out and got some interesting passes under tyre. I have a vague notion for an extended bike-pack trip around here and this helps immensely.


OS map 364.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Trust me...

OK. You're going to have to trust me on this.

Get a pint glass. Add 3 ice cubes, 2 or 3 good dashes of Tabasco, 7 of Worcestershire sauce. Squeeze a third of a lemon roughly into the glass. A wedge of lime, squeezed between your fingers and dropped in, too. Fill to the half way point with Guinness. Yep, you heard me right - Guinness. It's good for you. Fill up with Clamato.

Trust me...

This is called a Bloody Maureen. It is a good thing.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Try harder...

I've been in a fankle recently about trying hard enough. I think it stemmed from a conversation i might have had after watching a Danny Mac video. See, the boy doesnt half step. When he tries to do something he TRIES to do something. Full on effort, no holding back.

Let's take the last time i was at the skate park. I was trying to 360 out of a bowl. Blah. i am an old man after all...but what i noticed was that i wasnt REALLY trying....i was concerned in case i broke my ankle/wasnt able to work/ride off road at the weekend/do whatever i needed to do/it hurt/ etc.

If you dont try to the fullest and you dont succeed, you have no one to blame but yourself and you will never realise your potential.

i guess i was reflecting on this in the last 2 races i did. NOTHING was stopping me trying harder, except me. Nothing made me take my foot off the gas, nothing made me rest for more precious time, except me. Finding a way to tap the minds amazing ability to overpower the body is an important part of life i think. Living life to the fullest, the richest it can be, should be an important target. Once you realise that there is potential beyond what you think you might achieve, thats when you really get a buzz. No matter the sphere of effort, going beyond takes things to a different and better level.

Anyway....this video might make a similar point, a little more clearly.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The path of most resistance.

After joining my father in law for his 70th birthday in Crieff, by way of a pedal on the quieter roads up from glasgow, we had a great day chilling out in the sunshine at Crieff Hydro. Many happy returns Ian! i hope you got one or two good swings in.

Taking advantage of the weather, i took a wee crack at a route i've had my eye on for a little while. The first hour was spent carrying my bike up an unfeasibly steep slope, often in thick, high ferns on wet ground. The route then hit tussocks and open moor land, which left me changing plans and dropping through a disused slate quarry.

The reward was hitting the ridge from Ben Venue and dropping down southwards. As you can see in the pic, it got a little tricky at times, but was for the most part rideable. Further down, the trail has ben badly damaged by water since i was last there, no surprise! but it was a good day in the hills.


I doubt i'd be able to cope: lots of reasons, but the mosquitoes are probably the thing that gets under my skin more than the rest combined. I'm sure i'll come back to this..but for now, i'll let Mike Curiak's well aimed lens do the talking.