Tuesday, 18 November 2014

floating

after a couple of days of heavy rain I was expecting the trails to be under feet of water but even where it's traditionally wet didn't seem to bad, there was a lot of damage from run off eroding channels but i think the summer and spring were so dry that the water actually has somewhere to soak into. I dropped the pressure in the floater tyres lower tonight and they stayed on the rim bead and this meant there was a lot more grip available and the front end was a lot more compliant, even root riding was improved. I was glad of the rear mudhugger mudguard though
Ride 158
13 miles
Total 3192
commute 866

Thursday, 13 November 2014

alone in the dark

It wasn't the pitch black of the woods, it wasn't the cloying darkness. It wasn't the potential of crashing and not being found until daylight. It wasn't the peril of riding close to deep water, water covered with leaves that looked just like the trail ahead. It wasn't the swooping bird that seemed to narrowly miss my head, it wasn't the evil looking walker, in the middle of now where with seeming no destination looming at me out of the darkness.
It was the skittering of fast running clawed feet chasing me up the lane, the enormous teeth that were dripping drool and the gnarled hand reaching for my shoulder.
only it wasn't, it was a dry leaf blowing across the tarmac. I've never ridden that section of lane so fast!
Ride 157
13 miles
Total 3179
commute 866

problems at the end of the rainbow

so, I've ridden, through leaves, through deep loam, through rotting brambles, over shipping pallets, axle deep clay, across a stream, on tarmac, over the 3 biggest hills in the area, down scary rooty descents and the draggiest off camber grass imaginable. All in order to get a treat at Clent cafe. I even sprinted the 4" tyred behemoth the last 1/4 mile uphill into the car park, the attendant chuckiling at my massive rubber, but i didn't care, i was getting a cuppa, a cake, maybe a bacon sarnie.....or rather i wasn't, the cafe was closed for refurbishment. ARSE!, the only choice was to carry on, through more bogs, logs, holes and loose pebbles smeared with horse shit. the only highlight the round of applause i got from 2 walkers for cleaning the shitty pebbled climb.
that was a tough ride, with little reward.......IT WAS FLIPPING ACE!!
Ride 156
22 miles
Total 3166
commute 866

Monday, 10 November 2014

the Hair-dryer ride


After the first ride on the fatbike i quickly realised it needed some sort of mud protection as the large tires throw up a huge amount of debris. there are few, if any mudguards suitable. After consulting the guys at www.themudhugger.co.uk   they suggested trying a 29er mudhugger modified to fit using a hair-dryer to mould the plastic into the right shape. It took about half an hour until i was satisfied with the coverage and was easy to do, the only thing left to do was test it
The weather today was horrendous, torrential rain and windy, perfect to test a mudguard! The fat bike excels in the muddy conditions either ploughing through or floating on top of the mud, there were huge puddles, rivers of water and deep, deep mires of thick cloying mud but non of it was being thrown up my back. I was getting drenched though, wearing waterproof coat, shorts and socks but even so the water still finds its way inside of them. It was, i have to say, great fun, once you are wet you can't really get any wetter so splashing through the water trying to find the muddiest trails was the order of the day. I only headed home when my socks got so full of water i could hear a sloshing noise everytime i turned a pedal.
The mudhugger was a complete success, the stripe of mud up the back of my shorts and jacket from thelast ride was missing
Ride 155
7 miles
Total 3144
commute 866

Sunday, 2 November 2014

On One Fatty review



I’ve been intrigued by fat bikes, bikes originally designed to be ridden on snow & sand for a while. They look a lot of fun, they also look as if they would be hard work. They look as if they would be even harder work on normal trails.
I’ve tried a few, the first was a Surly Pugsley in about 2006 then a Salsa Mukluk about three years ago and to be honest it didn’t inspire me to look into getting one myself. I briefly rode the Mukluk on the local trails not on snow or sand though. I’ve tried a Salsa Beargrease, a Genesis Caribou, a Kona Wo and an On One Fatty, but none of them were actually the right size for me, they were fun but not something that jumped out and made me think I had to have one. All of them (apart from the tiny framed carbon feather light Beargrease) seemed heavy and a bit ponderous on the steering front, probably ideal for snow, but we haven’t had snow for 18 months in the NWAlps so I was unsure whether a fat bike was really worth it.
Cut to the present and I’ve been getting more and more fat curious having competed in a few endurance races against riders on them, they do seem a whole lot of fun so when a quite frankly ridiculously cheap option to get a full bike appeared I took the plunge and ordered a 20 inch “fatty” fat bike from On One.
The Fatty is designed by Brant Richards, primarily for a long distance snow race he entered a while ago in Finland but instead of designing purely for snow he made the geometry of the bike much more normal trail friendly, it’s probably got the slackest head angles of all the bikes I’ve ever owned, It came full assembled in the box, all I had to do was turn the bars and it was ready to ride, great job by the team at on one as after ordering the bike I then changed the spec by swapping the steel fork for the carbon fibre one, all without hassle. Even the delivery by Yodel was smooth and without incident!
So, the ride. First impressions are that there is a lot less “self steer” on the bike than some of the others I’ve tried, this is where the front tyre wants to pull you in one direction or the other and needs constant correction. I was able to ride the Fatty no-handed easily without it wandering. It doesn’t ride as heavy as it is (or looks). I was concerned that the 36/22 chainrings would mean I would be on the granny ring pretty much all the time especially off road but surprisingly I stayed on the big ring for all but the steepest/longest ascents. Conditions were pure Autumn, very wet, very muddy, slick leaves and greasy roots, not a snow flake to be seen but the grip from the 4” floater tyres was amazing, where a normal tyre would spin on the slippery surface these just dug in and propelled me forward. There was a lot less “mud shimmy” than normal tyres produce when they seem to loose control and steer where they want to, these monster tyres just plough a furrow and keep on going.
The low stand over is very reassuring (all sizes 16-18-20 have the same stand over) and I expected it to be a slow ponderous bike but I was throwing it down gradients and into turns like it was a hard core hardtail, it actually needs a dropper post to enhance this further. I rode all the usual trails to get a fair comparison with other bikes and it actually surpassed some of them, I can never ride up steps on my other bike, this one was only defeated by the greasiness of the topmost wooden one. It’s not often you can pull a bike from it’s box and feel instantly at home on it with the confidence to let it go down muddy chutes without some tweeking of the set up, all I did was set the seat post to the correct height!
I played with the tyre pressures a little but I might have taken the front a bit too low as it unseated the bead and made it wobbly, it didn’t come off the rim though and just took a bit of pressure to get it to pop back on. The penalty for the huge tyres isn’t the rumble on tarmac or the extra resistance there it’s the fat that they throw up a huge amount of mud, I’m going to need help from Mudhugger to over come this.
After just one ride it’s wrong to say that I’m sold on the idea of fat bikes but first impressions count and I definitely want another date with this Fatty and for the first time in years, probably as an adult I want it to snow this year!
 Ride 154
20 miles
Total 3137
commute 830

the road less travelled

it's nearly November and the temperatures are abnormally high but very breezy. My legs were feeling yesterdays long mtb ride so i just had a short ride around the lanes trying to avoid as much traffic as possible, you now there's not going to be many vehicles when there is grass growing in the centre of the road!
Ride 153
22 miles
Total 3117
commute 794

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bache Brothers shop visit

I'd planned a long ride, taking in 3 breweries via as much off road as possible but as it turned out beer stopped me doing that route, for now. I had one over the eight the night before and wasn't feeling my best as i left the house and i was undecided where to ride. I went through the Lickeys, across Waseley and then to Belbroughton using trails and tarmac. I was pedalling through Clent village when the idea to visit a bike shop came to me, I had two choices, " wheels in Amblecote or Bache Brothers in Lye. I'd never been to Bache brothers and they have recently changed hands and I'd heard good things so that was it mind made up. I pushed the door of the shop open, wheeled my bike in and there in front of me was  Genesis Caribou, a fat bike. I'd been looking at these and was keen to see one in the flesh. They guy working there wondered over and mentioned they also had a Kona fatbike. "want to try it?" and then he wheeled it out for me and told me to have a blast on it, they didn't know me from adam, just a sweaty beardy bloke who's turned up in their shop and they let me loose with the Kona and then the Caribou without even watching where i was or got up to!
The shop is great, loads of nice stuff and if i decide to buy a fat bike and it's the Genesis or the Kona they'll definately be getting my money.
If you are in the Midlands and the Black country area pop in, it'll be worth it
Ride 152
32 miles
Total 3095
commute 794

The wrong jacket

I usually look at BBC weather on my phone for a weather forecast as in the past they have been very accurate, sometimes predicting rain to the minute. Trusting them i dress accordingly. Today they forecast heavy rain for 5pm. I started the ride at 4:45 and put on a soft shell jacket to counter the coming deluge. It started to spit with rain as i left the house and, less than half a mile further on...it stopped and never rained again the whole ride meanwhile i slowly cooked inside the jacket, even with all the vents and the zip fully open.
There was a distraction though as i came across a narrow boat that had blocked the canal, whether it had slipped its mooring or someone had deliberately done it (it was situated 50 metres from a pub) it was hard to tell, there was no one aboard and it'd pose someone a challenge if they came across it.
So slowly sweating in my own juices I got home. It didn't rain all night or the next day!
Ride 151
16 miles
Total 3063
commute 794

Friday, 31 October 2014

fading light

Determined to use the last few of the summer daylight days I was out straight from work on a route with plenty of climbing, over lickey and then back into the velley and up up up back home. sadly as the sun set and lights were needed the air temperature also fell and i was forced to put on a gilet to keep the chill off even with the brisk climbing. by the time i got home it was as dark as it was going to get, quite depressing. However on a brighter note this ride equalled the total amount of rides i managed last year with 2 months still to go!
Ride 150
18 miles
Total 3047
commute 794

Thursday, 30 October 2014

final days

a quick ride after early work finish, still really mild but will this be the last ride in just a jersey? is the gilet and jacket just around the corner?
the only drawback of the warm damp conditions is the huge amount of insects that are still around. so numerous you can actually see clouds of them and if you ride through the cloud you instantly gain a black covering and the rest of the ride is spent itching!
Ride 149
17 miles
Total 3029
commute 794