Wednesday, 29 July 2015

so "peased" to be back in the saddle

having a bout of sickness for 24hrs and being forced to be off work it was a relief to feel well enough to be back on the bike this evening.
Although cool it was dry, pretty much perfect for the route I'd planned with 1260ft of climbing, pretty much all downhill then all uphill, so approx 10 miles of hill reps. Add to this the fact i was on the fat bike it was a decent work out.
If i#d have got hungry en route I'd have been saved by an unusual crop (for the NWAlps) It took me a while to realise they were peas. I'm used to garden grown ones on high canes, These were about 2,5ft high and quite bushy. Clearly though the plants loved their enviroment as they were bursting with pods of big fat peas!
ride 98
20 miles
total 1745
commute 384

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Racing the rain

with a day of heavy rain forecast for 0830 onwards I woke up and got straight into cycling stuff and out the door by 0700 in an effort to beat the downpour. Not knowing exactly when the rain would start i went as hard as i could to cram a decent ride in, i chose a route with a lot of climbing and i was about 3 miles from home when moisture began to fall from the sky. It was then a sprinnt to get home before it got heavier. I just made it with a slight dampness rather than a soaking. I could then feel smug the rest of the day watching the rain from the comfort of home.
ride 97
14 miles
total 1725
commute 366

putting the gardening off

desperate not to have to cut the grass in the back garden I managed to get out on the road bike for a quick ride in the sunshine. Took the long timberhonger route and tried to keep a reasonable average speed (14.2mph). still. i felt guilty when i got home and cut the grass anyway!
ride 96
26 miles
total 1709
commute 366

Friday, 24 July 2015

a quick 4 mile, 10 mile ride in pants

It was only supposed to be a quick ride from Aberaeron  to the house at Llanerchaeron along a tree lined disused railway track with the intention of indulging at the house tea room, but when we got there we found we couldn't use the facilities without paying the entrance fee to the house. So we carried on as the little lane past the house looked inviting. we got to the crossroads and spotted a cycle route sign. It would have been rude not to try it! However the little there and back 4 mile pootle then turned into 10 miles with 2000ft of climbing, thats a lot of height won and lost in a short circuit in the heat of midday. especially as we were dressed for a short ride, no lycra, no chamois just shorts and underwear! not the most comfortable i've ever been on a bike but the views from the various summits were spectacular overlooking cardigan bay, there were a couple of false summits and then a mega fast descent back into Aberaeron where we recoved on the beach
ride 95
10 miles
total 1683
commute 366

Monday, 20 July 2015

Cotic Solaris test ride

As i said in the previous blog post, the guys at bache brothers cycles let me take their test Cotic Solaris home to play with. as well as the wednesday night ride I used it to commute to work and then out again on the same day for another ride before returning it, all in all i pedalled it just under 50 miles.
The frame is original spec (an uprated version is due August 2015) with predominantly 853 steel tubes with a tapered fork compatible head tube, loads of stand over room and in a lovely green colour. the top tube is ovalised, presumably for stiffness but regardless of it's purpose it looks great and some how entices you to run your fingers along it as if to prove that your eyes aren't deceiving you. I have to say that this frame is a size smaller than I'd normally ride but with a 90mm stem and a lot of seat post showing it was fine for the short distances I was riding it.
the ride was comfy, as as good steel frame usually is, as i mentioned in my previous post I had to get used to the very different technique of riding thin tyres and a suspension fork, by the end of the test period i had adjusted and was weighting the fork a lot more into corners and not getting freaked out when looking down at the front tyre and seeing what looked like a road tyre in comparison to a fatty front!
I must mention the wheels, although i'm only interested in how the frame performed the wheels do have a large bearing on the feel. these were Stan's ztr crest rims on hope hubs. the hubs were as usual with Hope, pretty faultless but the rims were the flexiest things I've every ridden. they could be flexed visibly just by standing next to the bike, applying a brake and twisting the bars! very twangy! they maybe light but I wouldn't spec them on anything but a XC race bike.
I'm interested in a Solaris frame as it has shorter chainstays than my current bikes so should be easier to lift the front wheel for manuals etc and the new version will easily take the new 27.5+ wheel and tyre standard as well as 29", it will also take a longer suspension fork. the new one will also have a slightly slacker head angle, not that the present frame was unstable. In fact it felt pretty agile, was easy to wheelie and up steep climbs the front didn't lift even in the lowest gear. It's no lightweight but I didn't notice any significant penalty on uphill gradients that weren't outweighed by it's ability to turn my pedalling into forward motion.
Add the wheel size versatility and new angles to the next version, add 1x11 shimano gearing and some trail friendly parts including a dropper post and I'd but pretty much what I'm looking for. the chaps at Bache brothers are getting a new version in as a demo and have said they'll contact me when it arrives. hopefully it'll be a size bigger but I'm excited to try it
ride 94
14 miles
total 1673
commute 349

last minute change of plan

 The guys at bache brothers cycles have a Cotic Solaris test bike that they said i could have a look at. Fully expecting a car park ride at their shop I was surprised when they asked if i wanted to take it home and "bring it back when you've had enough" so, details left i packed it into the car and could use it on the wednesday night ride!
After 8 months on a fat bike and only using a rigid fork in all that time it was a steep learning curve to be suddenly on thing tyres and 120mm of front end travel.
We stayed in the Lickeys, which were quite soaked after the recent heavy rain but this did mean lots of sketch descents and corner drifting!
ride 93
17 miles
total 1659
commute 349

it's all temporary

I'd hoped to ride much further than this but empty legs curtailed that idea, pity as it was a great day weather wise. I headed along the ridgeway to the broken bridge at Bidford, past "cold comfort farm" and onto one of my favourite bits of road that snakes it's way into Pebworth. From there i kept passing these signs guarding the entrance to a "temporary car park", basically a hastily fenced off square of recently cut grass at a field entrance. The car parks were a summer only thing meant to promote walking in woodland. In each one i came across i struggled to see any woodland and not one car. From Pebworth next came the greenway into Straford. I stopped briefly to watch the horse racing at the racecourse beforeheading home via Anne Hathaway and Mary Arden's cottages
ride 92
53 miles
total 1630
commute 349

a short test

I purchased some new shorts and this after work ride was the first chance I'd had to test them. I took the Feckenham loop and then through Bradley Green, Stockwood, Droitwich, through the Stokes and then Tardebigge to home.
My trouble with shorts is that if the length fits (leg to shoulder) then the width is usually too big. If they fit my backside and thighs the shoulder straps cut me in half. This pairs length was fine but the width as usual, were a little baggy, the pad insert is also on the large side but was tolerable over this distance, so I'm pretty  happy for the £25 price
ride 91
35 miles
total 1577
commute 349

try to be regular

As most Doctors say, it's best to be regular and this is another of the Wednesday night rides. A lot, lot cooler than last week's humid sweatfest. We rode via the Lickeys, Waseley, Dodford and Bumblehole and stopped at a new pub venue, namely the New Inn in Bourneheath. The special treat we found was Enville Ale being served at the bar, well worth the extra miles to taste it
ride 90
17 miles
total 1542
commute 349

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wyre Forest

It's really been too long since I rode at the Wyre forest, sometime last Autumn I think. Conditions today were near perfect, dry, sunny and warm and apart from a few isolated areas of mud the forest was dry and dusty. Unfortunately the bike I had planned to take developed a fault so i had to use the Fat bike. Not the ideal bike to use when trying to keep up with guys on either light weigh cross country machines or full on enduro rigs, but at least i could use it as an excuse to ride at the back! when i uploaded the data from my bike computer to Strava I actually got my fastest time on 8 segments, so either i was deadly slow before or I didn't do too bad.
It's always difficult to plan a route to keep everyone happy, a good mix of climbs, descents and singletrack is the goal and I hope I achieved that. A few tweaks to the route and it'd be pretty much perfect.
There were a couple of trips over the bars but thankfully no lasting injuries. New guy Kris joined us after making contact via the NWAlps facebook group and survived!
ride 89
16 miles
total 1525
commute 349