Thursday, May 31, 2012


Whining is pretty self indulgent, isn't it? A lot of the thoughts i typed above are real, but things are not catastrophic, i'm not about to give Daisy away (afterall, she did a most excellent "MOOOOOO!" today and she's my ultimate partner in mischief) and i'm not going to go all Kaczynski. I *might* have to go and hide in the woods for a while though. Anyway, this is all most likely because i haven't had any coffee or beer for 3 days....

I want to say thank you for all the kind words and supportive (and elbow in the ribs/ttfu) comments and emails. Not expected/very grateful.

Ok. As you were.

Raging against circumstance.

Circumstance: we've been on holiday this week. It has been beautifully warm and sunny - relatively rare in Scotland. We desperately needed a break. Work has been busy for us both and i know i was burnt out. The situation wasn't being helped by being ill for the last few weeks. Then Daisy started vomiting. Dramatically. Every 30 minutes or so for about a day. Then it started the other way. Needless to say, the last few days before we left for our planned break to Aviemore was messy and tiring. Still, after a slight delay we figured Daisy was well enough to travel - and one of the reasons we had decided on a wee lodge in Aviemore was that it was very much a known entity. Easy to get to and easy to get things we might need, which meant we didn't have to pack the kitchen sink.

The game plan was a few walks in the stunning forrest. Perhaps a steam train ride. The lodge is affiliated to the Hilton hotel so had access to a swimming pool, soft play and various other activities that we know Daisy loves. It should have been a good break - time to enjoy our own company and recharge the batteries.

After almost no sleep on the first night, i woke in the morning and promptly vomited. Unusual for me. Trina didn't feel great either. Daisy was rallying so we tried to entertain her as best we could. Then the floodgates opened for me. That was Monday and nothing very much has changed as i sit here on Thursday morning, except Trina is just as bad.

Why am i telling you all this, dear blog? Well, in truth it is because i am bitter and angry. Raging, if you will. I desperately needed a break. Desperately. Instead i have been chained to a porcelain prison. I had grand plans of managing a ride in the Cairngorm while we were away, to take advantage of the unprecedented fine run of weather. The conditions were amazing. Instead we drove home with our hearts (or stomachs, i couldn't tell) in our mouths on monday evening. With us both being so unwell, it was too hard to deal with everything and keep Daisy entertained without being at home.

This has been a bit of a pattern the last few months. Any time off or window of opportunity has been thwarted by circumstance. Illness, exhaustion, house stuff whatever. I've tried to be Zen about it. Keep in mind the long game.

But at the moment i'm just sad. Fed up. My will is broken.

I dont do 'wanderings' anymore. One of the aspects of my life that i felt defined me seems to have evaporated. My head is full of white noise and i don't see much light at the end of the tunnel. There it is.

I cant remember how many posts i have made now that i look back on, shake my head and consign to the misery pile. But it is far too many. Maybe the sign is that this blog is dead. The blogger certainly isn't fit for purpose.

Who knows?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Getting me down.

I can't shake this cough. The last couple days i feel like i'm going to pop out a hernia or an eyeball every time i cough. Been fevered overnight for 3 nights and i ache. Damn, i'm tired of it. Anyways. New rubber arrived. Spent an hour out before my energy gave out and, despite the limited time, it reminds me of how i felt way back in the day when i ran Marin Rockstar tyres. Fast rolling, good wide centre bar (siped no less) and an amazing edge that in contrast to a lot of modern tyres does not induce blood curdling terror as you lean the bike, waiting, before it digs in: throw some shapes and the bike smoothly transitions into a confidence inspiring, rail-around-the-corner feel that lasts even through shearing, wet mud with an undercurrent of slick roots.
Finally, after many, many years of 29ers (when i started with the RoShamBo there was the wtb nano, and the mythos to choose from) i have the tyre of my dreams. These tyres will need to be prised from my cold, dead fingers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Detail orientated.

AHHHhhhhh! acai berry juice!....that and goji berry juice are a first class way to get some anti oxidants into a pretty oxidised body after recovering from a bit of a cold.

I thought id better get some updates done.

It is no secret i am big proponent of Jeff Jones designs - both bikes and components. I have been using Jones bars - H and loops - for so long now most other bars feel weird to me. I really like them. Comfort factor is high and the ability to distribute weight fore and aft is unparalleled. However, riding different bikes sometimes benefits from a slightly different set up. B.A (my Vertigo cycles all-mountain - though i'm beginning to dislike that term - hardtail) is slowly evolving, as is my style of riding that bike. When the fox doss is released, it will be added and i have some tyres in the post and there are some due later in the year that i think will complement the hard riding nature of this bike. I have already talked about my thoughts on forks that may or may not end up on B.A. My ponderings have also turned to handlebar and cockpit set up. No surprises that i have tried 5 different stem lengths and 3 different styles of bar on the bike already. But all have fallen short of perceived ideal. I *do* agree that shorter and wider has an advantage in steeper, nastier terrain and it is here that i wonder if somethign a little wider than the Jones' 27" could be beneficial. Of course, to achieve this and still allow comfort on long ride in and ups, a wider 45 degree sweep may not be the best, indeed, after using a 28" wide 31 degree sweep Watson cycles Parkarino on my 'cross bike, i think this may be a useful set up.
As good as the Parkarino is, there would be somethings i would change. Firstly, it would be slightly wider - ideally 29"/740mm. It would be made out of ti, because so far ti bars in my experience have been peerless at soaking up trail vibration, but it would have a bigger diameter centre section to mitigate ti's suppleness that can become a little flexy as the length increases - this is a bar for mid-gnarly riding after all!
The usable grip section would be longer too. One of the truly great things about the Jones loop bar is the huge 195mm length of usable grip. You can place your levers wherever they feel best but have huge swathes of real estate along which to place your hands. This translates to a huge range of weight distribution with little effort and no contorted arm positions and also eases the efforts demanded of you hands and wrists during prolonged rides.
So where am i up to? This is a sort of second draft of the concept. A fair amount of thinkering around how it will be made to come. But i think it might be pretty damn good.
What else? did you know that one of my favourite breweries - New Belgium - and one of my favourite bands - Clutch - have produced a collaboration? Clutch beer, no less. Would like the try that.
I've been garage nerding about tubes again. With the fresh and voluminous Continental rubber now at hand, the volume of tubes and how to best get good feel, puncture resistance and low rolling weight with appropriate durability has been raised for me again. Enve rims make this slightly problematic as they are deep (31mm iirc) compared to an aluminium rim.
I have started using tufo and token 'Vittoria style' valve extenders. These allow you to increase the valve length of removable core presta tubes, whilst retaining the valve's ability to be closed - a boon in muddy wet conditions.
At present the lite 26 and supersonic 26 tubes are 130g and 100g respectively and are made in taiwan, whereas the heavier tubes both 26 and 28x2.5 are made in china and come in at 200 and 230g respectively. Is it true that simply more rubber makes a tube more durable and for a system that can be run at lower pressure? i doubt it, but im coming to the conclusion that it may be somewhat practically associated.
The tube on the left is also new. It is a Michelin DH presta tube. It is ridiculously thick, and regrettably the valve core is not removable, so i will have to fit an alternative extender (in which, the valve core stays open) in order to use it with the enve rims. It will be fitted to B.A when i am going to plough through rockfuck. I have no idea how much it weighs: that is so far from being the point of this tube.
It is also probably no secret that i have very wide feet. VERY. Short and square, knowwhatimean?
Anyway, this limits me for decent cycling shoes that arent in the downhill style...yup: i aint the skinny racer boy type. Still, i do relish a performance shoe...but i *dont* like carbon soles, becuase the riding i do tends to need a fair old bit of portage. So, when my last pair of sidi's lost their souls, i decided to try some other brands. Problem: the mega dominator has been the only shoe that has bloated around my paddles for years. Still, with shimano's new large volume toe box, and the arrival of the giro high volume shoe, i thought i might have an option. So i did what any self respecting but limited cycling shoe fetishist would do: i bought them both. Interestingly, the correct size for me (43, i'm a 42.5 but my toes are so square i need the half size extra) was on the money for both of these brands - certainly not always the case.
The privateer is slipper like to say the least, and fits really, really well. The quality of the shoe seems high, and it is both supportive and stiff enough, whilst giving in a way that allows comfortable walking even on concrete surfaces. High hopes there then. It has a thin sole, and as such you dont feel like your pedals have turned into wooden blocks.
The shimano shoe i chose is the M162 - there's that phrase again - all mountain shoe. It is very snug accross the toe box for me, but roomy compared to so many shoes. In addition, there is no constant loop of fabric accross the whole toe box, so my reckoning is it should give a little (by the by, the privateer also is split in terms of fabric in a similar way so the mesh sections will allow give and movement.
Neither of these shoes are a winter shoe, or even a scottish autumn shoe, but both show promise. The shimano is robust and has a different 'set' on the pedal. It is firm, but again allows walking and carrying with no heal lift. The sole is thicker than the giro and seemingly allows a little less rotational movement on the pedal before what i think must be the fins of the sole force disengagement. its a little sooner than i would like, but the robust and lugged sole may pay dividends in certain terrain. Certainly both shoes provide excellent grip, even on slimey smooth stone.
So: we'll see. All i can say is im stoked to have 2 different pairs of shoes that might fit.
All in all, keeping out of mischief. And i have an incendiary green chile for tea. Aces.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A wee log hop.

It has been dry and time has allowed, so i've been out in the woods. Solo, early exploratory rides. Rides with old friends. Rides with new friends. It's been good.