Random musings about mountain bikes…

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New Bike – Getting back in the Habit

So things have been a little slow on the riding front this year.

A house move earlier in the year and the aftermath of decorating and sorting out the new place has resulted in a lack of interest in the bike and all thing cycling.  I’ve missed the usual outings and trips and even the regular Sunday trips.

I have managed to keep eating though  and a trip to France to amass a lot of wine has also resulted in the pounds piling on due to the lack of exercise.

The On-One had developed a nasty creak and then the Yeti needed some much needed maintenance and money spending on it which also added to me not riding much.

So I needed to get back on it, I have reduced my calorie intake to try and assist my waistline and upon returning from our French hols last weekend I had a conversation with the missus and some how persuaded her that I needed a new bike and that would assist with my motivation.

I have been looking at the Cannondale Habit SE since it came out last year.  A great looking bike and ticked a lot of boxes for what I was looking for.  120mm travel, light, nice specification.  The fact that the 2017 bikes are due out and Rutland Cycles where getting rid of stock and dropped the price by nearly £1k made it even more desirable.

I ordered on Saturday evening.  Rang them on Sunday morning and picked it up early afternoon.  Great customer service from Rutland I must say, they pushed it through quickly and communicated well when it was ready.  I collected from the Peterborough store which was a nice shop and the staff were really helpful.

Took the bike for a spin when I got home, after removing all the reflectors and the bell.

Went for a quick loop around the sea wall and the first impressions of the bike were that it felt light and responsive.

The night after I headed over to Danbury to test it off road.  It gained speed quickly, a lot faster than the Yeti with me braking more into sections as I felt I was going much quicker.  The suspension seemed to work well being very smooth over rooted sections and in the jumps.  I did play around with the rebound settings and found that middle of the road on the Lefty fork seemed to work well.   The Sram Guide brakes also seemed to work well, I have not been a fan  of there previous incarnations (Avid) but it looks like they have upped there game. Got back to the car with a mucky bike and a big grin on my face.

Last night I met up with Mr. B and had a ride over to the pub for a pint or three and dessert.    That’s three days in a row and my legs are feeling it today.  Looking on Strava I have only done 350 miles this year with around 50 being in the last three days.

We have LLandegla and Marin Trail coming up in October so need to build up the momentum and get more miles in.

Some pics of the bike from the last few days.

Not a Bad Habit... New bike...

Not a Bad Habit... New bike...

First ride in the mucky stuff...

 

Planning the Summer Road Trip

Well, unfortunately it is my 40th this year but to cheer me up we are planning a 3 week road trip to Alaska and North California.

It’s taking a bit of planning but we now have a rough idea of the route.   It’s not going to be cheap, but it’s going to be fun.

Will keep you updated with how it goes.

New Yeti Vid – Colorado Trail Goodness

Just watched the new Yeti video.

Makes me want to go and bikepack, if it wasnt getting bloody cold and wet!

Colorado Trail. I’m Part of The Tribe. on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Colorado Trail. I’m Part of The Tribe. on Vimeo.

 

Bluebell Ride – An annual event…

Well what is nicer than that time of year when the Bluebells come out… For a MTB’er not much.

It is a rare treat to ride through this wonderful landscape and enjoy the beauty of bluebells.  We also seem to have nice weather when the Bluebells are out with lovely dry trails.

Therefore this is the third year that we have done our annual Bluebell ride with the purpose of lugging out all my camera gear and stopping to try some reasonable pictures of the event.

I’d just like to thank all the riders involved for there patience and input into the ride.  Need more colourful clothing though.  Nearly everyone was wearing black!

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Such fun…

 

 

FWC Training – King of the Downs

So we did plan to ride some of the FWC (Fred Whitton Challenge) loop this weekend but the weather in the Lakes was hideous with bad fog forecast.  This plus the thought of a 6 hour drive was enough to make us stay down south and ride in some sunnier and dryer weather.

It was therefore decided that we would attempt the King of the Downs loop generally arranged by Evans in June but we got hold of the gpx file on line and did it unsupported.  It was actually a really well thought out route making the most of the surrounding area and picking up every hill possible.  The first half headed out to Box Hill which I felt was a bit underwhelming but some of the other hills had a real kick to them.

Lunch at Box Hill then we completed the first half.  The route is a figure of 8 so it is os tempting to stop at the half way point, but we continued on.  Things went well until around 90 miles when I started to lag. I checked my blood sugar levels and they had started to drop.  I had a couple of energy bars which helped but I think by this time I had not consumed enough food to fuel me on.

The last couple of hills were real killers and hit me hard.  The last few miles were me just limping along with the fuel tank on empty.  I had bonked big time.

I have never been so happy to see my car and the finish of a ride.  One of the toughest days on a bike ever for me.

I really need to look at my fuelling on these longer rides, I have not had the issue before but generally I am not out riding constantly from 8 am to 6 pm at night.  I need to get in the mindset of eating every 30 minutes to keep my energy levels up

Next ride I am going to force myself to eat more often and I also need to get some hill practice in.  maybe more sessions of my local big hill.  Not enjoyable riding but neccessary for the FWC.

I must admit that the riding I am doing at the moment is not my style of riding.  It is a means to an end to complete the FWC, something which I have always wanted to do.  Once this is completed I am looking forward to ramping my miles down and enjoying some off road and more relaxed riding.

Only 5 more weeks to the FWC!!!!  Pic taken by Stu at the top of Box Hill…

 

 

kingofthedowns

Blade Trail: Afan – Mountain Bike Weekend

Had a great weekend in Wales, now sat in work wishing I was back there!

Headed over to Afan on Saturday where we did Y Wall and Blue Scar on the Saturday and then hit the newly opened Blade Trail on Sunday.

We have done The Wall a few times and I really enjoy it as a trail.  A bit too much fire road on the way up but really enjoy the rocky singletrack descent and it is always in good condition.  We then did the Blue Scar in the afternoon, only around 30 minutes to get around it but just a fun blue route.  The final descent is fast but a bit too manicured for my liking.

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On the Sunday we headed for the newly completed Blade Trail.  We had heard rumours that the trail was a bit of a mess in places and had not dealt with the recent bad weather but decided to try it.

The technical climb straight out of the car park is a refreshing change.  Much prefer it to fire road.  It actually seems easier than riding up fire road.  Maybe because you are concentrating (and enjoying) the trail.  The descents were great with a nice mixture of fast and flowy singletrack and some more technical rocky descents.  I would class it as a more technical red route but found it to be a great all round trail with something for everyone.

The trail was a bit muddy and already some of the berms are starting to break down with braking bumps and may be very quickly be ruined as it has only been open for 5 weeks.  Hopefully they will get on it and sort this out before Spring/Summer kicks in and number of visitors increase.

Was still amazed yesterday by the number of people riding these trails without helmets.  We had four seasons in one day yesterday with sleet and hail and particularly cold sections and still bumping into people wearing baseball caps, t-shirts and hoodies!  Bonkers!

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Legs on the Blade...

Back to Gears

I’ve been riding the On-One Ti 456 singlespeed through most of winter.  I must admit I like the simplicity of the singlespeed.  I ride it and then put it away until the next ride.    The Ti frame means it doesn’t need constant cleaning and I generally don’t worry to much about the chain, just a quick wipe down.  It gets rusty but what the hell…

I do use the bike for a bit of bikepacking as well in nicer weather and it does get some outings to hillier areas so generally in Spring, gears come back.  For the last few years I have run a Sram XO 9 speed on the back and single ring (32T) up front with a chain device.  This seems to cover most of my needs.  I did the Welsh Ride Thing with this set up and although we clocked up 116 miles through deepest darkest Wales it did nearly kill me. 

So this year I have treated myself to a new drivetrain.  I have gone for 1 x 10.

The LBS did me a great deal on a Shimano XT Shadow + (clutch) rear mech and single shifter and found found a great on line bargain for SLX cassette and chain.  I also got a thick/thin front chainring meaning that in theory with the clutch rear mech I would not need a chain device.

I fitted them this weekend and I must admit the clutch does seem to tension the chain well.  The lack of chain device makes the bike look clean and should reduce resistance.  Only time will tell if it actually works?  I will hopefully test it out this weekend.

I also got a new addition to the bikepack kit in the form of a Alpkit Possum.  This is slung of the top tube and will be useful for carry all manor of kit.  It s probably going to carry all my small bits and pieces that I use to accompany the camping and cooking kit.  Plus easy to reach food.

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Rain, rain and more rain!

Well what can I say about the weather of late?  WET!

I know we have not been as bad as some parts of the country but this has been the wettest I have ever know Essex in the 14 years of living here.

The last few weeks have been biblical.  I went out a couple of weeks ago and headed on my usual route over to the local trails to meet friends.  I got to the river to find a road closed sign and the road under water.  Now normally I would have turned around and found a different route but I was running late and the week before we had been on a very wet weekend in Wales, my brain kicked in with ‘ well it cant be any worse than last weekend?’.  I started to ride into the road, the water poured over my boots and then it got to the point were I just couldn’t cycle any more.  I then had to get off the bike and wade nearly waist deep through the flood.  This was a bit worse than Wales!

I met with friends, rode some trails then headed home, I thought I may as well go the same route as I was already soaked.  I got to the river to be met by a photographer from the Essex Chronicle taking pictures.  ‘It’s quite deep, I would find another route’.  ‘Nah, Ive already been through it today so may as well head back through it’…  ‘Mind if I take some pictures then’ he chuckled to my reply.

I got home cold and wet but having had a good ride and a bit of adventure.  The week after my friend Keith produced a newpaper cutting of me from the paper wading through the water.  I was quite chuffed to have got in!

The week after I again arranged to meet friends for an early morning pootle.  This time I took the other route over, which never usually has any issues.  As I got towards the fishing lakes I noticed the familiar sight of a road closed sign.  What the hell, it cant be worse than last week.  IT WAS!  I managed to wade over to the raised walkway but the road must have been under 3 foot of water.  The rest of the ride was filled with blasting through puddles and deep water as it didn’t really matter as my feet were soaking.

This left one road open to get to the other side of the river, my ride last week now has that at the point were a 4×4 can get through but cyclists will get wet feet.

The missus is not happy as my winter boots are permanently drying on the radiators and I have now resorted to putting wet boots back on.  I have realised I have no common sense and need to turn around at Road Closed signs.

Cant wait for this horrendous weather to finish, roll on Summer!

Flood essex chronicle Flood 1 Flood 2 Flood 3

Fred Whitton Challenge – Bugger I got in!

Well I have looked at the Fred Whitton Challenge (112 miles, 4000m of climbing sportive) for a few years now and always liked the idea of it.  There was always one problem though, I didn’t have a road bike!  Well that changed at the end of last year so the obvious obstacle was removed.

I had a quiet chat with Stu (@stuartw81) and he was up for it although his nervousness towards it started to worry me.

We applied and waited for the outcome.  The notification day came and went and I assumed we had not got in, then I heard it was delayed and the lucky people would be notified via mail (not electronic) – more waiting.

Then the letter arrived and we were in!  I informed Stu who didn’t seem overly excited but insisted he needed to get some riding in ASAP (he rides far more than I do, infact double my mileage last year).  He got in an 80 mile straight off but it didn’t end too well in the fact that a car hit him and ripped all the ligaments out of his right shoulder!  Not a great start to his training.

Well I have now started training, I am doing some form of exercise every day in February in the form of either a 4 mile run or 10 mile bike ride to get my fitness levels up.  Coming into March the distances are going to creep up with some hill interval training sessions and then April will be some 100+ mile rides.

Still need to come up with a target time to complete it.  8 hours is in my head but scared this is too optimistic ?

Will keep the blog updated with my progress!1st Darkside Ride fwc fatstu FWC

Darkside Ride 100 miler – Lowestoft to Witham

Did my first decent ride on the Dark Side Bike (Cannondale Road Bike) at the weekend.

Me and a couple of friends caught the train up to Lowestoft on the Norfolk coast and then cycled home.  I planned a route on BikeHike and it came out around the 90 mile distance which seemed fine.

Arrived in Lowestoft with no dramas, never really used the train for transporting the bike before but all worked well and was very relaxed.

Start Point - Lowestoft

We headed down to Southwold, and caught the foot ferry ( large row boat) to Walberswick then pieced down to Bawdsey, we made a slight navigational erro at this point so ended up in Orford but soon got back on track.

Southwold Ferry Jetty. First of three ferries.

Stu and Andy at Southwold.

Arrival at Bawdsey meant lunch in the Boathouse Cafe and then ferry number 2 (slightly bigger boat with motor) and then headed into Felixstowe.  We had to book the Felixstowe ferry as it was timed and luckily we arrived 10 minutes before departure.

Andy on Bawdsey Ferry - No. 2

Me and Stu waiting for Felixstowe Ferry - No. 3.

Bike on Felixstowe - Harwich Ferry.

We arrived in Harwich for the last leg of the journey and headed for home.  We got into Witham at about 98 miles so did a quick lap of the town to push us over the 100 mile mark.

Arrival in Harwich - last leg.

Very happy to have completed my first 100 mile ride.  Could feel it in my legs and ate my own body weight in food that night.

Final Stats, just hit the 100!

Strava - Route detail.

Off to plan my next train, ferry based adventure!!!!