Thursday, 29 November 2007

Best bike of the year is....

...I'll keep you in suspense for a while while I update you on other things. Riding has been sporadic but great fun when I can be arsed / the weather cooperates. 2hrs on Sunday and then a 3.5hr blast with the Ashton crew from Gretton up Prescot and over Cleeve on Tuesday night felt really good. The new Fenix L2D Q5 and 2Fish mount on the helmet were great...plenty of light on its own let alone with the home-brew twin LEDs. The Conti Twister 42c are on the bike and despite lowering the BB by 15mm I have not noticed any more pedal strikes than normal. Line choice is a little more demanding as it traction / power transfer if you wand to avoid fish-tailing up the trail. While this does look cool to the people behind it just makes it harder work!

Running the CX / Monster-Cross type tyres has got me thinking about a dedicated monster-cross bike and what is the maximum tyre size I would need in the front and back. The 29x2.0" Michelin AT are plenty big enough as were the Bonty ACX and Kenda SB-8's although I do have a hankering for a WTB Weirwolf LT 29x2.55" for the front run at 20psi for added suspension! Seriously though a Conti Vapor 29x1.8" (they are marked 2.0" but are nowhere near) or the Bonty XR 1.8" would be more than enough so perhaps a more CX style bike might fit the bill, especially with the new Audax UK calender out now.

My big descision is do I prototype the frame in steel via Lee then wait for the Ti version OR just go straight to the Ti and trust the builder/designer? Hmmmm kind of weird letting someone else design a frame for me, like a pilot getting nervous when someone else is flying the plane :) These are just musings at the moment but the BikeCAD time keeps me sharp and keyed into the geeky side of things.

OK,you have waded throught that junk so what is the best bike of the year? Well here are a few stats:

It has gears
It has 26" wheels
It is only ridden on the road
It is a stock bike

Yep, my Saracen Pylon (2007 geared one) and Xtracycle combo. For all out fun and practicality you can't beat it with a very big stick. It does a great job of commuting me the mile to work and the mile and a half to the shops and rides well even with a weeks shopping for 2 in the back. It looks so mad no one wants to steal it and can be loked anywhere in town with out hassle.

Becca was, I think its fair to say, skeptical with the idea. Until she rode it once and now I have to leave it at home on Saturdays as she does the shopping on it. Oh, and she's named it "Dotty"...always a good sign of acceptance (although I think it looks more like an "Igor" with reference to the Terry Pratchet character who is ugly but very practical)

So, 29er drop-bar fixies loose out this year. Perhaps next year.

Alex

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Ok, I have been slack

Not much riding or blogging going on and a stack of other things to do as well. Sundays are lazy days with bad weather outside providing the soundtrack and Tuesdays have been "work through the list" days.

Looking at fitting some Conti Twister 42c to the Solly as with the mud I will need something that won't clog and if its really bad not hold me back on the road too much!

Still some photos from India and Sheldons Long Mynd Ride to up-load / fettle.

My hardly used WB Magic-29 forks are on EBay as I am really rocking the On-One carbons again. Starting price of £199 and only a few days to run.

Thats about it.

Alex

Monday, 12 November 2007

Time for taking stock

After such a big trip, intense planning and execution and post-event catch-up / wind down can leave you feeling a little, well vacant and empty. Riding the MTB Himachal was an exercise in enforced simplicity and purity, ie. you ate because you were really hungry and you slept because you were dog tired, two basic things that we rarely do in the western world with any great regularity. Petty things like TV programs, work hassle, DIY and other "concerns" we fill ourselves up with in everyday life just didn't appear on the radar. Coming back to the "normal" way of life has been rather odd and I have had to adapt some what to get back into the swing of things.

I am not totally reverting to my old self though. I plan to ride more and further on a regular basis. I have switched back to rigid and fixed and now feel more at home on the bike despite the perceived "hindrance" of such a set up. Local rides are approached with a nonchalant air of someone who does not need a bag full of "just in case" kit and extraneous gubbins to enjoy the ride. The only bad bit is all the mud :) I am also planning more long distance events to test my self now I know my limits lie somewhere beyond the horizon of my expectations. Audax events and bivvi trips are the two way I see this going. There are just not enough long distance MTB events in the UK (forget 24hr races and "enduros", that shit just don't do it for me) that are a) remote and challenging and b) not silly £££ entry fees.

I also plan to get by with less, consider my actions more carefully and plan a little more. Having seen the abject poverty in Delhi and the meager possession of other people in India I have really woken up to all the crap we buy "just because..." does not make us better or happier (EDIT: see later in this post for more info, I really can't be bothered to edit it as I would rather spend time with Becca and I can always re-visit this after a long solo ride to mull it over) In fact walking round the new Habitat store in cheltenham made me feel really uneasy. Now I am not talking about giving everything away and living in a commune but as the Solitude strap-line said, Need Less - Do More. Guess I sort of forgot about that in the rush to Do More.

Bivvi trips will most likely be "ride form the door step" 2-3dayers with minimal kit and planning. I would love to try some audax events in the 200-400km range and possibly a 600km later in the year. I don't plan on a new bike, well I did sketch out an audax frame and kit list but realised that I could throw slicks and a 15t sprocket on the 29er (along with a rack if needed) and make do. I know the position is fine for 200km+ and the kit is top-notch and durable. I did take a look at (and perform a currency conversion) one of these as the last one was great and I think it would be the ultimate "do it all" bike (with cantis so I can fit CX tyres and get silly in the mud) although the kit would be very similar to the 29er!

I am currently reading the "The way of happiness" by HH the Dali Lama. Now I am not a "spiritual" person and have a pretty pragmatic out look on life and thought that this book might be a little "airy fairy" but I was very happy to find that HH has a very common sense approach to the problems of the world and ways to improve your life which don't involve tie-dye, joss sticks and "spirits" Now I don't see my self becoming a Buddhist but I can certainly see the benefit in their approach.

The basics are to see your self as a human being and know that you are like all the other people. That you want to increase your happiness and decrease your suffering. That all other sentient beings want the same and you should do all you can to assist them. Sounds like common sense to me.