Thursday, 20 December 2007

Looking back

As 2007 draws to a close I guess a short recap of the year is in order (well everyone else is doing it!) The biggest event was undoubtedly the MTB Himachal race and the amazing people and places that it involved. Such an undertaking was pretty daunting but with the help of a lot of people it was manageable. Becca for letting me go and not burning the house down when I was away, Dhanajay for organising the overseas riders and putting up with the endless emails. Amanda at Chocolate Fish and Chris at Endura for the clothing and Kenda for the tyres. Asif at the Spars Lodge Shimla for the floor of his cafe and the great food...I will be back there. Ray and Joe for being great friends and putting up with an OCD Brit singlespeeder. Dickie Boy for the encouragement and being a damn nice bloke to everyone, I wish more people were like him. Alan, Luca, Matt, Roopak and all the other riders for the camaraderie and banter. John for showing me what it takes to race the GDR (no time soon for me!)

2007 also saw Solitude close its doors due to other commitments, it was a tough call to make but with training, wedding plans and a full time job I could not fit in the time needed to email customers / design bikes / fettle the finished frames etc...and I really did not want my reputation to suffer. That did not put a stop to my BikeCAD addiction and I am still throwing ideas about and I'm looking for a micro-brand to take on my new 29er design. My Solitude really had a thrashing in India and still came back for more, the fit is 100% spot on and I am really struggling if I ever need to upgrade / change anything. I did flirt with freewheels and suspension but with that out of my system I am back on the rigid-n-fixed path. Slower, more difficult but I am smiling more and wrenching bikes less :) A 185mm front disc and a powder coat finish are on the cards for January.

So what's planned for 2008? Well the wedding in September is the big one but I am planning a 3-4 day "stag ride" probably from north to south Wales on dirt (as much as possible) and get to use my bike packing kit some more some time in june / july. Might try and make the SSUK for a weekend of beer and friends depending where / when it is. More local rides, less worry+stress and fingers crossed some good weather!

So I wish everyone a happy Yule and see you net year :)

Alex

Thursday, 6 December 2007

New bikes, old bikes and bold bikes

Tuesday, as my normal day off was a complete loss as I was up at 6:30am and worked on bikes all day. Not as bad as it sounded as I spent the day at my old shop John Atkins Cycles (Leamington) spannering in their very well equipped workshop.

First job after the full English breakfast at Zebbs was to fit new headset bearings to a gator linear fade Klein Adroit and MC2 (yep, i can tell and Mission Control 1 form a 2 at 20paces...I am sad!) JAC is the last place in the UK with a full Klein headset / bb tool kit...like I said they are tooled up. Being the only bugger who knows how to do it I get called in every so often to fettle a bike. Its not a really complex job but it takes time, Patience and a little mechanical know-how. So 3hrs later the Klein has a new, sweet turning headset that should be good for another 10 years.

Next job was to build up a Solitude frame, specifically Matt's stainless lugged audax frame named Rosie. Ultrgra 10sp, ITM forks, Thomson and Cane Creek filled out the gaps in the spec with Brooks bar tape and Swift saddle topping it off. Even with mudguards and lots of steerer spacers it looked great. Matt has promised to make a couple of dry fettle-up rides before taking some proper shots for the web.

Treat of the day was getting to oggle and then briefly test ride a Jeff Jones space-frame bike (thanks Graham!) When it comes to nice bike I have owned and ridden a few but none left such an impression on me as that bike. Even a street ride in trainers on eggbeater pedals on a bike with too lower a saddle and the bars a bit close I felt really at home and instantly able to hop up curbs and wheelie off them. Jeff really knows where its at and has nailed it with this bike (a 23" top tube "production" spec one like Merlin build)

To finish a couple of shots from the workshop (sorry, none of the Jones or Klein, I was pushed for time and photos are thanks to Matt)

Alex