Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's been one of those weeks...

A little while ago, i decided that rather than waffle about day to day random rubbish which is of little or no interest to anyone, i'd try and keep this blog entirely cycling related. The problem with that is that sometimes i do precious little in the way of cycling related stuff. Take this week for instance. Primarily it has involved arseing around with cars, getting the first points i have had on my licence, trying to catch up on sleep and house stuff. The weather has been rubbish and all in all i'd say i'm feeling a little down in the dumps. Everything i have done has taken an inordinate amount of effort - probably due to being exhausted rather than karma or bad luck - and has more often than not turned right around and smacked me in the face.

Anyways, i could go on moaning but no one wants to hear that, right? what we want here is some stiff upper lip and to make lemonade out of lemons etc etc.

Some good stuff: Daisy has been bouncing in the jumperoo, eating everything we put within arms reach and just generally being a wee star.

We went to see Clan Donald in the 'ferry. We had a great time, but it was humbling to see them deal with 4 kids when it seems quite time consuming (if rewarding) having but 1. Mike and i escaped for a couple of hours and rode some of the quieter backroads near Glamis Castle. Despite a brisk wind it was an excellent ride, with great company. Thanks Mike!

I have also been re-experimenting with Micheladas. These beer-based drinks - composed similarly to a bloody mary - are a like 'em or love 'em sort of thing. So far i am liking the 50:50 mix of clamato, negro modelo with 8 dashes of worcestershire sauce and 3 dashes of tabasco and the squeeze of 1/3 lemon, 4 ice cubes and a squeeze of lime version, but i'm trying alternatives. We'll see where it goes...

Bristol Bike Fest is approaching rapidly, So rapidly infact that i am almost entirely anti-prepared. I have done almost zero riding recently, my sleep has been terrible and i have a million and one things on my mind. Still, today i finally pulled my finger out and decided what bike i was going to ride. It is no secret amongst those who know me how broken i was after the race last year. The course was quite rough and unbeknownst to me my seat post was gradually walking out of my frame due to excessive flex (my fault in asking so much of the seat post, rather than a design flaw i'd hasten to add - now fixed with a reinforcement sleeve internally in the post). My wrists and back got an absolute shoe-ing. Perhaps driving 8 hours the day before, after clearing up to go on holiday to Switzerland, and driving down through France the next day was part of it, but i was pretty broken.

Needless to say i have been having an internal dialogue about whether i am able to cope with such a bumpy course this year and still try to do well (2nd last year). I doubt it: Lack of fitness, saddle time and fear are all part of it, but i just dont think i would be able to do the 12 hours.

So my initial thoughts were to singlespeed the Vertigo, perhaps with a magic gear ratio, or run the 29er snow rim on the front of the pink bike and hope the added floatation was sufficient. I had also hoped to have ridden both options in ernest so as to make a reasonable decision. Ha!....

I had held off on singlespeeding the Vertigo: i felt it would be a time sink and i wasnt convinced that i really *wanted* to. It is set up really nice at present and i just didnt want to meddle. Then my friend shaggy gave me a bit of a course report. Seems there has been quite a lot of work done by the Bristol Trail Fairies and many of the bumpier areas have been somewhat smoothed. With his description my mind was cast back and i started sweating. I *knew* that at hour 7 or 8 i was going to want that fox fork up front. So i set to work. Using the fixmeup! program described in a previous post, i knew i had 3 or so options that would give me the gear i wanted. I might have needed to use a old or a brand new chain to get the tension juuuust right, but with very little work indeed, the first ratio i tried (and the preferred one) slipped on with perfect tension. Damn! fixmeup! and a good tape measure worked a charm!...

So, i'll desperately try to get a ride on this bike this week prior to leaving for Bristol, but with the volume of precipitation, i'm not banking on it, but at least when i hit those roots on the sweet singletrack of Ashton Court i'll be smiling and flying rather than wincing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It has come to this.

As the rain continues to fall, a desperate move has been made. What can i say? i need to feel the burn of lactate as the muscles approach the redline. After 5 sets of 5 minutes at threshold on the rollers, my downstairs neighbour decided to ask me to stfu.

What can you do?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hard to believe.

It is hard to believe after the last fortnights rains that just a short time ago we were enjoying the driest April i can remember. When you have the opportunity, you'd best use it. I decided to try and do a Cairngorm loop that would give me some pointers for a future planned ride.

The idea was to rough camp in Glen Feshie, get up at the arse crack of dawn and ride round Loch Gamhna, to Picadilly, round Loch Morlich, into the Ryvoan pass, hang an east and head up the Lairig an Laoigh, past Bynack Mor, drop down to the Fords of Avon, keep heading down into Glen Derry, then head west along the Dee before following the Geldie Burn up into Feshie and back.

Yep, quite a beefy route, but i was hoping all the dry weather would make the notoriously boggy Glen Feshie at the far end of the loop rideable, at least in part.

The other thing i wasnt sure about was how rideable the Lairig would be. The Lairig Ghru isnt, so i guess optimism was key here.

As i pulled myself out of my tent, the warm evening had given way to a frosty start. It was minus 5. By the time i hit dirt, the temp had only reached minus 4 and i was shivering. The stable weather system meant that temps well into the 20's were for sure, so i was relatively minimally dressed. Keep calm. Carry on.

By the time i was in sight of Bynack Mor, i was well warmed up. The views were spectacular, but the brisk breeze kept speeds low.

The trail improvements are a ways off, so there was a little pushing on this section. With gears, i reckon its 100% rideable. As i passed under the Barns of Bynack (huge granite tors that overlook the glen) the trail became almost a trials problem. I spent a significant amount of time here before i finally dropped down to the Avon refuge.

After a quick dip to ford the river, where i was careful not to lose my socks, i headed down the sweet Glen Derry descent. Awesome times.

The area around the base of Derry Cairngorm is beautiful: it was a pleasure to ride out of this bowl with classic Caledonian pine and high mountain scenery.

The weather conditions meant the tracks west from the Linn of Dee were dry until i was close to Glen Feshie, and even here, it was partly rideable. Some land slides and a shonky old bridge over a cascading waterfall, then i was into Feshie proper - always a beautiful place to be.

11 or so hours later i was back at the car. Desiccated, as it was 25 degrees now, but what a route. Am i any closer to knowing how to connect the dots for the future. Some...we'll see....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe....

Just when you thought it was safe to revisit this blog and not see something that dissappears up its own black hole about gear ratios: i'm going to talk gear ratios.

Lets say that following on from a pretty bumpy 12 hour race you have another bumpy 12 hour race coming up. You might have a history of doing ok in that race and it may be the one race you look forward to (in the uk at least) more than any other. Buuut the last time you did it you were nearly reduced to tears by back and arm pain due to riding on the baked hard course on an uncompromisingly rigid forked bike with narrow tyres at high pressure. Something has to give, right?

This is where i am.

At Newcastleton i used high volume Conti race kings at 20psi. This was a good thing. The Jones was pretty comfy for the most part, just a little jangly on some of the washboard sections. It was awesome to ride through the singletrack...but lets say i want to race a bike with a suspension fork at Bristol Bike Fest....especially if it is as baked hard under-tyre as last year.

However, the Vertigo frame has no chain tensioning bits. Fortunately. FixMeUp! provides a way to calculate what cog and chainring combos might work for a given chainstay length....

Once all this goes into the melting pot i'm left with several options that will potentially allow me to 'magic gear' the Vertigo for Bristol.....35x19, 39x23, and 34x20. These all fall at very slightly different chainstay lengths, so one or the other should fit, especially if i try combos with new or used chains...

Other things to look at:

Entries open for SSUK 11.

As is SSUSA.

New Black Owls visuals.

Issue 3 of Privateer is out. If you want a more cerebral mtb magazine, get it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12/24 of Exposure.

Write up.

(pic by Joolze, as ever, lady in the trenches)

Get the pearls over at the VC Moulin blog, yo.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Full throttle.

Within the space of a few days things seemed to have flipped from all talk/no action to all action/no talk.

Promise to get some beefier updates up here shortly, but in the meantime i'm going to leave you with this image of my new jersey.

I guess it means i am the British and European 12 hour singlespeed champ (after this weekends 12/24 hrs of exposure) and despite the fact that most of the big guns were shooting for the 24 hour title, i'm pretty damn pleased. Especially as Morvelo did such a good job on the design...a full report will be up on VC Moulin shortly.

In saying that, i was probably more pleased to get home and give my wee girl a hug...2 days away was a long time.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cairngorm loop...

Feshie/Loch Morlich/Glenmore Lodge/Ryvoan pass/Lairig an Laoigh/Glen Derry/Dee/Feshie.

8.5 hrs. Sweet as. More on this shortly....