Wednesday, 29 August 2007

That was the week(end) that was...hard.

After a pretty quiet and boring day in the shop on Saturday the planned 75km ride on Sunday was eagerly awaited. The weather was floorless (if a little hot and sunny for an epic...but after the summer we have had so far I really hate to complain) and the bikes ready to go. The first 30km out to Guiting went pretty well but the next 30km really dragged (partly due to unknow trails) and the lack of proper food (frutini's and flapjack are not enough for Becca...she needs a cheese+onion sarnie!)made it an effort to finish. We did re-jig the route back but still managed 72km. After a shower and change of clothes we went to the all-you-can-eat "Real China" in the Brewery complex. I think we pretty much ate our own bodyweight in food and returned home sleepy and full.

The plan was to ride with the Ashton club in the Forest of Dean on Monday afternoon and with a little leverage (and bribes) we turned up at the appointed time and place. Sheldon had planned out a great route and despite snapping his XTR crank after 1/2 mile it went really well. Big shout out to Mandi who got a singlespeed baptism of fire after Sheldon "borrowed" her XTR crank and she was relegated to the rigid Kona SS (32:16...way to big for them hills!) despite being used to a geared full-sus she made pretty reasonable time!

At the cut-out point I opted to follow the "faster / more stupid" pack to take in some more climbing and a really sweet singletrack descent (The Lawnmower) before meeting back at the pub for cider and cheesy chips.

No real riding on Tuesday but plenty ouf round town stuff on the Xtracycle including a trip back with a BIG bag of kitty litter in one side :)

The glitch list is starting to get smaller with only a couple of minor niggles on there at the moment. My Karrimor hydropack is working great and the camera is easy to get to on the belt (plus I can karibina the wrist strap to the excess shoulder strap so I can't drop the camera!) Even after 7hrs on the bike the pack does not screw up my neck/shoulders/back and keeps still on nasty jarring singletrack. I plan to take some photos and give a complete kit run-down at some point...possibly this Sunday as we have a wedding on Saturday (with in staggering distace of home) and friends staying over so chances to get out on the bike will be limited.

Fundraising is going well with an article due in the Echo soon and BBC Radio Glos and Star FM also giving me some more coverage. I have my bus tickets booked and printed out. Insurance and Dr's Letter are still on the "to do" list and must be sorted out this week.

At this point in the training / preperation I am pretty sure I have covered all the bases (barring death or dismemberment for me or the bike) and my fitness is the best it ever has been but I am now doubting that despite the preperation and training I might still not be up to the task. Day 6 for example is only 52km....but all but the last 2km into camp are up hill! The day consists of climbing all the way to the top of Jalori Pass 3223m (about 2000m vertical!) and a hike-a-bike section to finish it off.

At this point there really is no turning back.

Alex

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The BIG test

This weekend will be the big test for me and the kit. On Sunday we have a 75km+ epic planned taking in 1450m of vertical ascent. To follow up there is a "big" ride in the FoD with the Ashton club that Sheldon has warned me "includes some climbing"...bring it on :)

I am also planning more after work rides and will be charging all the batteries so I can run my home-brew LED lights and plan on making another mini helmet light that runs on 2 AAs and gives out 3w of light (about a 10w halogen eqv.) for 2hrs+.

I have just got off the phone with Emily at the Glos Echo about the trip and hope to snag some more sponsorship. I have put a post on STW but still to get any £££ out of it although the good wishes help :)

On a (sort of related point) I am looking for an on-line copy of the Orange mobile phone advert with the film producer running in the park yells to his personal trainer who is trying drag him back on some raines "Gunther, make me bleeeeeed!" I seem to be one of the few people who have seen it and some frineds think I am mad!

Later

Alex

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Back on the 'net

Ended up buying a new laptop as Dell are taking the P by asking me to pay for a new mother board despite having paid for a new one less than 9mths ago....this can run and run as I have a faster, better laptop for less £££ so I can afford to string it out :)

Riding has been sporadic but I have been feeling really good on the bike, the 20t White Ind sprocket is on and the test ride up Cheltenham hill (A435) showed how much it was worth...totally aerobic climb all the way. I must change it back to the 18t to keep up the training.

The bike strip down went well and the forks are totally amazing having changed the 4wt for 2.5wt that suits my 10st (140lb) better. The BB is securly fitted in the frame thanks to extra strong loc-tite...I have a feeling that a lot of heat will be needed to shift it one day. Lots of little things to sort out (my ever growing "glitch list") over the next few weeks.

I picked up one of the last bits of kit I need and one I hope not to use...some sterile needles and syringes should I need drastic medical attention!

Fund raising is going well but I am still a way off the £1k I am after. With luck some more coverage in the local press will help boost the "not a friend of mine already" donations.

Not much else going on.

Alex

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Down time

Due to the laptop dying again I will be a little light on blogging over the next week or so. With luck Dell will sort it out ASAP (motherboard is only 9mths old!) and I will be back on-line soon.

In the mean time I will keep getting the miles in and raising money.

Thanks,

Alex

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

MC is back!

Great news that my friend, fixie-inspiration and all round nice guy Matt Chester is back, feeling better and will be back builidng sweet frames once he has caught up with the backlog. Looks like a move north of the border and wedding bells are also on the horizon :)

Alex

Monday, 13 August 2007

Fine tuning the kit and planning a soundtrack for the singletrack

Yep, been riding some more, last Sunday I strained some back muscles pretty bad out climbing some bouncy-shifty bikes on a hot and sunny 40km thanks to Si (Ihatenettles) and Sheldon. I took it pretty easy last week (apart from lots of utility cycling on the Xtracycle...photos to follow) and went out for 3hrs (what I now refer to as a "short ride") to recover from a hangover and test out the new Karrimor camelbak that I got for my birthday.

I hate carrying stuff on my back but this bag keeps the weight low and on the hips so I can ride with the shoulder straps really loose and avoid neck and shoulder pain. I can fit pretty much everything in it and 1.2l of water. I will carry the tools and other spares in the Jandd frame pack to keep the weight on the bike...low and centered. I can carry 2x 0.75l bottles on the frame making just under 3l of H2O at any one time.

There are two zipped side pockets that I can access on the go so I can use these for snacks, sun cream and insect repellant. Speaking of nasty stuff I had my jabs last week for...well pretty much everything! My arms hurt and I felt a bit rough for the day but I am now covered for most of the nasties. The good news I had was that I don't need malaria tablets as Delhi is a low risk area and Shimla north is pretty much too high for the pesky mossies. I plan on high strength repellant and developing a love of G+T's...ok, just the repellant then!

I won't be on the bike tomorrow as there is a bad weather warning and I need to strip and re-build the bike a la Mike Curiak "Build it strong, build it comfey and use lots of loc-tite" People might wonder why I am doing this mid-August and not later September, well I want to give it a service then ride it some more to make sure that it is 100% fine before I go. There will probably be a few niggling things that need sorting over a few weeks.

My other task for wet-days is to rip some of my CDs on to my MP3 player for the trip. I already have an SD card half full of down-tempo, ambient stuff for the big climbs and long flights (Neurosis, Isis, Final, GY!BE, Silver Mt Zion) and now need some faster stuff like the Haunted, Dead Kennedys, Therapy?, Entombed and the Beastie Boys...did I say I had an ecclectic music collection?

Over and out.

Alex

Friday, 3 August 2007

Entry fee......done

Finally got the entry fee sorted thanks to Akhil at MTBHimachal and Gill at the HSBC Cheltenham. Turns out I didn't need a SWIFT number and I can send US$ to India. The last two people I saw at the bank were addamant that it just wasn't possible!

I have re-built my wheels with the DT Swiss TK7.1 rims (disc version on the front) and it looks great and gives the tyre a much wider profile than the skinny Mavic MA3's. I had forgotten how well the DT rims build up compared to anything else out there...highly reccomended.

Still scouting round for insurance but the BCF seems to be the only way :(

Probably riding Sunday if I can get a new suit sorted in my 45min lunch break tomorrow. I plan to hook up with IHateNettles in Winchcombe and ride about 20miles on the fixie...probably ride up and over Cleeve hill there and back to get some extra alltitude in...yep I'm a sucker!

Solitude Cycles has ceased trading as with the race, work and other stuff I just didn't have the time.

Later

Alex