Saturday, 20 December 2008

Brain training

Because I have been too ill to ride :( Becca has had the flu, and just like she said in the marriage vows, she shared it with me. Cue 2days off work bored to death. I am back in today as its the "busiest shopping day" of the year...well not in this bike shop. Pretty much all the bikes are sold and awaiting collection. P+A is going OK for last minute / little pressies and the odd kids bike.

So while I was off I did do some thinking about how I am going to build a good base mileage early in the year given the weather and motivation that early January brings. So I have decided to combine watching all those movies I have never go round to seeing and training into one. One joy of wooden floors and a detached house is that you can set the turbo-trainer up in the lounge and watch a movie with the sound way up with no complaints. So I need to compile a list of good movies I want to watch and fill out a Blockbuster membership form.

I realise that it won't replace all out doors cycling but should allow me to shift some of the extra stone I have gained in the last few months. Base miles interspersed with self-flagulation on the Ashton club rides should help build my strength and stamina.

I think I have pretty much sorted how and what I am carrying on the Spiti Race, yeah I know its months away and planning whats going where should be way down the list I had plenty of "mind time" on my hands in the last two days so I have it sorted. Frame pack will take the tools, tubes, pump, first aid kit, arm and leg warmers, buff and hat plus snacks and race book (if its the same as the MTB Himachal we need a "Time Book" which is a 50page duplicate book for signing at the start and finish of stages)

The Camelbak Classic will take 2l oh H2O and the Montane jacket on the bungee net and the lip balm, emergency whistle and MP3 player on the straps. I know I hate carrying stuff on my back but the Classic with its minimal weight and good straps is OK for longer stuff. No matter how I pack the kit the ride is going to hurt. Getover it. The only unknown I know at the moment is where the riders support jeep will be on the day. Each Jeep is shared by 4 riders and carries their stuff during the day and word is you can access your stuff during the race. Handy if you end up busting lots of tubes or rip a tyre.

I have just been lent a copy of "Short Walks in Shangri-La" and while it is about a walking trip to Nepal some of the stuff rings true with India too and while I am only a couple of chapters in its an entertaining read.



Tuesday, 16 December 2008

...and now we have corporate sponsorship

Yep, long time aquaintance and purveyor of fine singlespeed, fixed and 29er bits Charlie the Bike Monger has agreed to kit me out with some essential stuff for my trip. I am not sure when I first met Charlie but I am pretty sure I was still at Johnny A's and it could have been one of the singlespeed races at Thetford. His online business has grown from a few items on Ebay to a proper online shop stocked with lots of great stuff and information on how and why to use it.

My bike is awaiting a 20t Surly fixed cog and new chain and a tropical tweed cycling cap for me. Stainless steel and wool...what a great combo. Needless to say that by bike will now be sporting (more) CtBM stickers and please follow the link on the left for all your perverted cycling parts needs :)

Other news is that I have fitted a CaneCreek Thudbuster ST to the bike [Si'down at the back!] If its good enough for uber-Viking berserker Dicky I can dam well use one too. Its the secret to off-road fixing over long distances according to the big-D so I'll give it a go and hope it saves my ring on the rough stuff. Thanks to Extra UK (CC importers) for doing me a staff deal on it.

Also on the bike are two chainrings, a Surly 34t and 36t so I can run a dinglespeed 34:20 (uphill at altitude) 36:18 (downhill and over 15mph!) without moving the brake pads or more likely a 36:20 for round here as we lack amazingly long up or downhills. So no its not a singlespeed anymore. Blah.

Also worth noting is the mc write up on dropbar padding and wrap. Cloth tape is a lot more durable and making use of an old mouse mat pure genius. Might give it a go if I can get my Oury grips off in one piece.

Riding has been a start-stop affair as I went on the Ashton night ride last Tuesday with Trevor from work and had a blast in the cold clear night on to of Cleeve until I clipped a pedal on the way into a small bomb-hole and went A-over-T and landed hard on my right side. I managed to keep riding but the next few days were worrying as it hurt more and more on my hip and upper arm. Then it started to heal just as a huge bruise came up on my shin. Ah well. Training is just not a good idea :) My fitness was not as bad as I feared BUT I still have a huge way to go to get it back on form.

Planning the logistics side of things has been easier as sitting indoors with a cup of tea sounds a better option at this time of year. Latest plan is to carry the bulky but light stuff (ie clothing) in the Carradice SQR pack where it won't rattle and the heavy tools, tubes etc in the bottom of the frame bag. This leaves the top of the frame bag for food, water, camera and other "to hand" stuff. AND NOTHING ON MY BACK. Worth using CaPsLoCs for that. I hate carrying stuff on my back and unless I am really careful my neck and shoulders mutiny which is the last thing you want on an 8 day race.

Thats enough for now.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Chocolate Fish Mernio Beanie

I had a phone call from Amanda at Chocolate Fish the other day checking that my mailing address was the same as she wanted me to test the newest product in their range, a beanie made from the off-cuts of the T-shirts. Regular readers will know that I have bought CF stuff in the past and in 2007 they sponsored me more of their great clothing for the MTB Himachal. So I could be seen as biased but I'm not and you'll have to take my word for it.

The beanie is pretty light weight and packs up really small. Available in black, blue or green and made from 190gm super fine NZ merino (and made in NZ too) the price of £7.50 it is amazing value (others charge up to £35 for boutique brands!) At this price it will make a great stocking filler for cyclists and outdoors people.

So how does it work? It fits great under a helmet and the seams are a lot less noticeable than the synthetic ones I have used (Polaris and Lusso) It is not quite as warm but that's a good thing as after adding 250g of super-insulating polystyrene helmet you can over heat pretty fast. All the normal praise for super fine merino applies (no itch, does not stink after a few rides, works well over a range of temperatures etc...) Definately a bit of kit that will always be in my frame bag for unknown weather conditions or on my bonce at this time of year!

Buy it here and don't forget to look at the other stuff too as it works just as well and is a lot cheaper than other brands!


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Why and whats next?

Interesting thread on the MTBR Endurance forum asking why people push themselves in long races be it a 24hr race in a team or a solo attempt on the GDR. I was going to post until I saw that, what I assumed my answer would be, had been posted a dozen times already: Personal challenge, being outdoors, self sufficiency, ranking amongst other riders, etc.... The more I thought about it the more I realised that while those things did matter they were often secondary to the real reason.

I want to suffer. I want to confront my demons and I want to meet them on my terms. I want to beat them down and back into the dark corners of my mind. Simple.

I have yet to find anything as cathartic as a 3hr+ climb a vertical mile up a mountain pass in 80deg heat on a singlespeed. Perhaps primal scream therapy whilst having your legs beaten with a big stick might come close. I find the simple, repetitive almost trance inducing act of sitting and pedaling up a hill totally relaxing in a mental way. Sure your legs burn and your lungs heave but you shut that out after a while and you retreat into you mind, seeking out the dark corners away from the scorching sunlight and dust outside. You open doors, stumble across memories and feelings long buried. You laugh and cry, sing snippets of old songs and let the mental pain you uncover leave your body with the ragged breath from your lungs.

At the top you are not quite sure how you made it or what other riders might think of you. But you are calm, centred and happy; you suffered and survived. You went looking for pain and found the right dose, one that stimulates your mind and body enough to make it tougher but also aware of how frail it is. I hope that through seeking out hurt and self-doubt I can make my self not only a better person but also tougher for when an unfortunate event befalls me. I won't be shocked beyond action like a person thrown into icy water for the first time, but accept the pain and get on with it like those nutters who swim in ice covered lakes for fun...or perhaps they like the pain?

So whats next? I have had word of an 8day race in the Spiti valley run by the great guys at HASTPA who run the MTB Himachal. 480km and 16,000m of climbing, so shorter and steeper than the Himachal! The race starts on the 21st July and takes in a couple of 14,000'+ passes in the weird barren moon-scape of the Spiti valley. The start and end is in Manali (where I will find a real Yak this time!) which is a great place to acclimatise / recover. The real draw is the fact that the Spiti area is sheltered from the monsoon rains and is one of the driest places on earth...which after riding in the UK over the last 2-3years sounds great! Perhaps I can export some of our weather or set up a meteorological exchange program :) Details will be up here soon

I have been making plans for the 2009 MTB Himachal but I think that this new, bigger challenge might be the one. The only bad news is that the short time scale and the cost of the event and airfare. Don't get me wrong the event is cheap for the level of support and organisation you get (support jeeps, all catering, full medical team, emergency helicopter on standby and a pressure chamber if you get altitude sickness!) but on the wages of a bike shop employee it is big £££ to find at relatively short notice. If anyone would like to contribute in a small way to my taking part there is a Paypal Donate button on the top of the sidebar. I feel cheeky but failing a big company wanting to sponsor a lone singlespeeder in a race that only a small community of endurance racers will ever hear about I need to self-fund it. I am willing to send everyone who sponsors me a CD-ROM of the photos and copy of my write up when I get back.

Right enough of the begging and navel-gazing.


Photo taken by Cass Gilbert, shamelessly stolen by me.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

No riding, just planning

Motivation continues to wane, bike sit dormant in the cellar but I hope that its on the turn.

Very little to report, I am still fettling the 3PR route in MemoryMap. Plans for another multi-day ride might be in the offing too. So much to plan.

On the other hand people I know have been busy: Jill from the Up In Alaska blog has published a book and Dave Nice (aka Slowerthensnot) is a film star so have a look here.

No chance to read the book yet as it only arrived at lunch time today but if its anything like the blog it should be great. Dave's short film is a really good sketch of a rider who just loves to ride and get out there and do it rather than waste time on-line talking about it.

Right, better sign off.


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A picture... worth a thousand words. Not sure how many Excel spreadsheets, e-mails and gramm counting that equates to but I will let you know nearer the time. Thanks to IanMunroe on STW for the idea / .gxp file of the route and GPSBabel for the conversion so I can use it in MemoryMap.

Rough data from Ian: 650miles, >50% off road. 100,000ft climbing. The 3 highest rideable peaks in England, Wales and Scotland. 1-2weeks to complete.

Think its doable? Fancy a shot at it later next year? Drop me an email singlespeedpunk AT gmail DOT com.


Sunday, 26 October 2008

New ride

Well here is my new ride, an OS Bikes Blackbuck singlespeed. What another singlespeed? Don't you have one of those already? Well I do but the Solly will be rocking a fixed gear, 42c CX treads and optional bike packing gear for epics, mixed terrain rides and stuff. The BB will be for shorter rides (sub-8hr say) and messing about on. The freewheel and dual disc brakes makes it a little more friendly for technical riding and group one likes being dropped on a fire road downhill in the first 50m :)

I had followed with interest GuitarTeds testing of the BB on with a variety of different forks. The geometry is pretty different from "regular" 29ers with a 74deg head and seat angle, 435mm forks with 51mm rake (tail about 55mm, vs 70-80mm for most other 29ers) 612mm top tube is spot on for me and the 18" seat tube fine as well. The EBB is the closest fitting I have see on a production frame and makes it easy to adjust the chain tension. Ah hell, read G-Teds write up, he's better at it than me.

I managed to get it built up on Friday night but had to wait until Saturday to finish it as the Avid rear hose was 10" too short (the front was only just long enough on a rigid bike!) and the top-hats in the Race Face BB needed replacing after the original ones shattered when I installed the cranks. I did read, understand and follow the instructions but still they fell apart. After the silly easy fitting of the Deore HTII cranks to Becca's bike earlier in the week I was a little miffed but that's life. Oh and they don't spin too easily, I hope that this will bed in a bit.

First ride was a 2hr social jaunt over Breadon hill, starting with a nasty climb to gain height then taking in grassy descents, mud, singletrack, wet roots and psychotic trail dogs. The handling felt really stable to start with, I could even manage some no-handed riding on the road and kept the front end from wandering on the stiff climb up the fields. When I got it on the twisty trail however the handling was super sharp and a real "think about it and its done" sort of response that saved me a couple of times (mainly turning in too sharp on wet, muddy grass)

I need to fit a shorter stem (90mm vs 105mm on there) and slide the saddle right back. Colour co-ordinated stem spacers. A seat clamp that holds the post a bit better as the QR one slipped a litte with me bouncing on the saddle, aided by the hefty Carradice Glentress seat pack (filled with tools, tube, pump, jacket, over trousers, food and camera!) A surly Constrictor might fit the bill nicely.

The saddle pack and a spare SQR block on the Solly allows me to carry enough for most day rides (along with 2 bottles on the frame) and easily move it from bike to bike depending on the ride. The frame bag will be fitted for big stuff and when I really need to cart the kitchen sink about! Talk today was of a bivvy at Afan and possibly the West Highland Way next year over 4-5days with some side route diversions.

Finally a pic, with the Titec bars looking really odd, well odder than normal!


Monday, 13 October 2008

Touring bike for sale: Dawes Horizon.

A friend at work is selling his touring bike he has just finished renovating. Specs and contact details below.

Dawes Horizon touring bike, recently re-built with lots of new stuff and hardly used.

classic reynolds 520 db lugged cromo frame and forks (early 90')
Tiagra x-type semi compact c/s 50/34t
Tiagra rear mech
Sora 09 9speed sti shifters and front mech
Brooks B17 special saddle std black copper rails/rivets
3t bars
LX cantis
Mavic Ma3/open sport rims rebuilt on rsx highly polished hubs
new chain,bar tape,cassette,seatpost,cables etc.

Every thing new except headset and tyres.

£300 collection only from Cheltenham.

email giles.g1 AT googlemail DOT com or call 07852219455

Sunday, 12 October 2008


Lack of energy, motivation and err, umm, eloquence? Despite the lovely weather I have not been out on the bike. Yeah, I should I guess but when a habitual early riser sleeps in until gone 10am on a sunny Sunday something is wrong. Today has been a relaxing one, some light DIY, bike fetting and zombie killing on the Wii.

The winter bike project is well under way. I have an OS Bikes Blackbuck frame and forks on its way from Mark Slate (WTB / Cunningham fame) and a stack of Titec, DT, Race Face, WTB and Avid parts sat at work ready for the frame to land here. My cousin Nicky has expressed an interest in building up a bike so I might see if he wants to give me a hand putting it all together (wheels included) one weekend. Its cool to help people learn stuff...might have to miss out on the beers and metal while doing it ;)

The plan for the bike is to be a low-geared freewheeling bike with "normal" bars for messing about on over the winter while the drop-bar Solly is fitted with 42c tyres for long mixed-terrain rides and bike-packing.

Speaking of bike packing, there is a new site / forum on that subject ( missed a trick there) that is worth checking out. A nice mix of newbies like me and seasoned vetrans so there is a good spread of experiance and some cracking ride reports.

My friend, best man and bike-adventure vetran Matt sent me a great present, a photo book made up of photos we all took on the GDR ride with captions. Its great to have a hard copy of the shots and once we get a coffee table it will look cool on there :) Thanks Matt!

OK, enough blather from me. Have a nice week.


Monday, 29 September 2008


Yep, been back a week now but have been pretty busy at work and other stuff has sapped my blogging time (never much recently) Riding has been spotty but The Wall trail at Afan and some sweet trails around Tintern (Monmouthshire) have been sampled. Still rocking the drop-bar fixie but there might be a change (or addition) on the horizon.

The new Haunted album landed today and it shows a return to form and better (read heavier production) than the new and pretty good Metallica album. Still waiting for the new Jesu EP to arrive from Japan but having listened on the 'net it has to be some of the most, err, comercial and poppy output form Mr J K Broadrick ever.

Lots of events appearing on the off-the-radar radar (if that makes sense) Plus some local stuff.



Friday, 29 August 2008

Sorry for the silence

But wedding planning has been No. 1 on the list for a few weeks now and with the big day about a week away don't expect much from me for the next month :( Just booked a cottage in Scotland with what looks like loads of great riding, beeches and distilleries on the door step. Plus we will have another 8days to tour around if we want and probably visit some of the 7Stanes trails and other great places north of the border.

OK, over and out for now


Sunday, 3 August 2008

Been back a while

But only just got round to posting anything. I have some photos on the Picasa slide show below, more (and better) photos can be found on Sheldon's Flikr account.

The trip was everything a road-trip should be; long miles, weird people, bad food and good beer. Throw in some gorgeous weather and we had it made. From a kit point of view everything worked 100% although if I did it again I would ditch a lot of the snacks and hot drinks (plenty of pubs, cafes and shops along the way) The coffee mug/press while pretty good would be swaped for a towel. The best bit of kit had to be the bungee net as you could use it to dry your shorts, carry jaffa cakes and catch a lift from other riders :)


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Still here...but not for much longer

Yep, GDR-Wales is fast approaching and I have pretty much finalised the kit pending any big swings in the weather. The snacks I am taking are my only concern as in all its 2kg of stuff, 1.5kg I could loose and still have emergency food but I guess I like the idea of not relying on shops / pubs for a snack :)

Final pictures will be up in a day or two along with final info and plans. The only big change is that we are starting from Shrewsbury as Tym can't make it so we are eating, drinking and sleeping at his place before heading due West the next day towards Balla.

Time for sleep and to try and shake this damn cold :( Why do I always get a cold a week before a big event...answers on a postcard...


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

New GDR record!

OK, I am slack and this is old news but congratulations to John Nobile for setting a new GDR record of 15days, 1hr plus change. A really great ride considering the dodgy conditions at the start.

Photo stolen from GDR blog with out permission...sorry.

Big cheer for Jenn still on the trail after a nasty case of gardia / back-garden-trots. Hope you are feeling better and continue to amaze us all the way to Mexico!


Saturday, 5 July 2008

Normal programming will resume...

After this detour, although I guess it could be linked to my love of singlespeeds and fixies in its simplicity and efficiency.

I have been shaving for the last 15 years and despite trying most razors on the market I have struggled to find anything that fulfils my strict criteria:

a) Removes face fuzz
b) does not remove skin/blood/facial features

As I said I have tried everything from supermarket specials with one blade throw-aways to the fancy and heavily marketed / hyped cartridge units with an ever incereasing number of blades...they will end up with a "Mach 20" razor that resembles a cheese grater and is about the same size! Some of the supermarket specials were pretty good but the consistency was not there, one pack were super smooth and charp the next like shaving with a rusty bread knife. The multi blades all gummed up, dragged and removed lots of skin.

I needed a solution as shaving at night so my face could heal over night was wearing thin. I stumbled across "Badger and Blade" following on from a Wiki article and I discovered the world of Double Edged Safety Razors. They are what your Dad / Granddad used up until the 1980's. A thin double edged blade held in a solid metal handle (the Gillette are the most famous of this type) and used to carefully and with NO PRESSURE shave you face. Sure they need a little more thought than the numpty face rakes out there now but they do a better job and with much less irritation.

So a week after this revalation I bought a Murker HD razor, Taylors shaving soap, badger hair brush* and some Derby and Israeli blades. I also got 5 Merkur Palatinum blades free with the razor. So having read up on the "How to" on Badger and Blade I set to having my first "real" shave.

There is something very satisfying about using shaving soap, you get to whip up a lather in your old coffee mug and apply it while trying not to stuff the brush up your nostrils. Picking up the razor and applying it to my face the first time was slightly scary but once I had the correct angle the bristles never stood a chance. The trick is to shave with the grain of the hairs then lather up again and make a pass across the grain. Once you face is used to it (about a month) you can add an against the grain pass for a BBS** face.

While it does take longer than a regular wet shave and is best done after a hot shower / bath (unless you can wrap your face in a hot flannel for a few minutes) the whole job only takes about 15mins and the results are worth it.

The razors are pretty cheap for something that will last decades and probably be passed on to your children but the real clincher for me was the price of the blades. A pack of 10 Gillette platinum coated blades costs less than £5 and each blade is good for 5-8 shaves. When you have finished with it just pop the blade in a safe sharps-box (or a sweets tin with a slot in the top and lid taped on!) and you can always recycle them. Each blade is very different in character and you need to try several different types with your razor to find what works for you. The Murker Platinums were a bit "draggy" for me in the HD, the Derby a bit aggressive but the "cheap" Israeli blades were pretty sharp and smooth. The new Gillette Platinums are even better but require a little more care, esp on the first shave!

A good way to try them out is to get a sample pack from HERE and give them all a try and then buy in bulk the one that works best for you.

So it might seem a little antiquated compared to the fancy multi-blade cartridge razors out there but it is still about because it works, is cheap and gives better results. Things that have been forgotten in the race for the "next big thing"

OK, thats me done.


*Not UK / European Badger as they are protected, Asian ones that are eaten for food anyway and the pelts discarded.

**BBS = Baby Butt Smooth

Tour divide / GDR amazingness

Well Matt Lee has finished the first ever TD in 19.5days...damn amazing given the terrible conditions (snow) earlier on in the race. Ardie Alson finished in 21days+ which is still amazing for over 2,700miles!

John Nobile is chasing down the GDR record and is (as of the last call in) 2hrs ahead of JP's record and has 14hrs to ride 125miles. Having ridden with John in India I can say that he is damn fast and has proved it pulling back a time deficite in bad conditions. Go John GO!

My own GDR-Wales preparation has been limited to a 2hr blast up the hills with all the kit on the bike to make sure nothing worked loose or fell off. I did notice the rack bag a little when coasting and pushing the bike but only a little rub on the back of my legs, not actually limiting movement. Now its just a waiting game and thrashing out minor details like getting to Chester with the bikes! Train or possibly a car...not sure right now.

Sheldon has test packed his gear (click for link) and gone for a seat-post mounted rack as he has funky IF drop-outs on the bike that make rack fitting a PITA. Alpkit drybags front and back plus a camera case. MSR stove fuel and hip flask on the frame...nice priorities!

Last thing is that I am clearing out some more stuff on Ebay so take a look HERE.

Right, time for food.


Thursday, 26 June 2008

Bike packing kit....done (Updated!)

Well as done as it gets for an event still a month away. I might swap out some clothes depending on the weather and we are looking at sharing some stuff (stove, 1st aid and tools) so it might even get a little lighter. Snacks and emergency food will add about 1.5kg depending on how much Billtong I get...a 500g bag sounds good!

Sheldon is due over soon to collect his rack and borrow my rack top bag to try packing his kit, he's now thinking that panniers might be a little big even with all his camera gear. Not sure what Matt is doing as he is awaiting his custom sized PHD sleeping bag and bivvi tent...that's what you get for being a body builder and having arms thicker than my legs! I think he is going for the drybags / straps ultra light method too on his Solitude Audax bike.

Total kit weight at the moment is about 6.7kg base weight, add another 3.5kg for water and snacks so about 10kg / 22lbs all in. I have yet to fill and weigh the hip flask but I am happy to drag that sort of weight about! Only the camelbak with 2l of water and camera will be on my back so I am happy to ride all day with no discomfort, I much rather the bike take the weight and then I am only really noticing it when lifting it over fences!

The drybags are from Alpkit who make some amazing kit for really reasonable prices and great customer service to back it up. I really reccomend anyone looking for out door kit have a mooch about their site and give some of it a go. To give you some idea of the value the straps to hold the drybags to the bike cost more than the bags themselves! I also got a couple of packs of clip-its (mini caribena clips) so I can attatch the bungee net over the rack bag so I can carry extra stuff (jaffa cakes etc..) and possibly dry clothes as we ride.

Some photos of the finished set up then goodnight.


Sunday, 22 June 2008

MM 2008 / Bivvi test v1.0

Just back from Eastnor Castle and Mountain Mayhem 24hr race. I was not racing but providing catering and mechanical help to the Ashton MTB club (6 teams, 1 solo!) I did use the time to test the tarp / bivvi / sleeping bag and found it super good. I only managed about 4hrs in it as I had people to rouse and bikes to fettle but it all worked...despite the 30mph winds and driving rain.

No pictures but the tarp was strung at and angle against a fence so Sheldon and my self could (easily) get our heads and chests under it only leaving our legs exposed.

More when I have had some sleep

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

1st Test

I managed to get a test ride in on Sunday with the full GDR Bivvi kit and the new Carradice bar bag (that looks very similar to a Barley saddle bag...) I packed the full kit minus food as I know I have plenty of space in the top of the frame bag for snacks and emergency food. The bar bag worked well and although loosing the side pockets would give some more hand room I had no issues on the 3hr ride with the buckles rubbing my hands. Riding with the weight on the bike was not too bad, and a damn sight better than the 23-24lbs total would hint at. Spreading it along the bike (and keeping the tools/water down low) really helped to balance the bike and although I was not super fast I was able to ride The Skull and Dowies Pt2 with no issues.

Only real thing to sort now is the camelbak. I am using my ancient Source bag from c2000 that takes a 2L bladder, rain jacket and trousers and 1st Aid kit. The shape is pretty good with the weight low down but the lack of a proper waist belt means that the shoulders take all the strain. A 10L version of the Karrimor bag I used in the Himalayas would be tops....the search continues!

Packing list as follows:

Fenix light, GPS, rear light on rack.

Bar bag: Sleeping mat, bivvi bag, tarp, lock. 2.1kg

Frame bag:
1L water; tools, tube, pump, etc.; maps, food+snacks, 4x AA's. 2.2kg

Rack Bag:
Sleeping bag (in W/proof bag), stove, mug, wash kit, matches, spare clothes and more space for food. I am also adding a bungee net for additional storage / stop stuff moving about too much. 2.9kg

Source Hydro Pack: 2L water, camera, waterproof jacket and trousers, 1st Aid Kit, wallet/keys. 3.6kg

= 10.8kg including 3L of water (base weight = 7.8kg including bags!)
Food/snacks will add about 2kg for the 4 days...most refueling will be in pubs / local shops!

I have circulated a Memory Map of the route to the participants and got back from Matt a break down of the climbing which was rather alarming....37,000feet in 4 days / 400km! I am looking at the route again to see if there are any silly / unnecessary climbs I can edit but I know that there will be a few "stern walks" along the way. My 20t ACS freewheel on its was from the USA might help a little.

EDIT: Having looked again the scale is to blame for some of the "ski jump" route profiles....ok a 10% climb is plenty on a loaded bike but it is do-able. I have added an alternate on Day 3 and 4 to miss out some of the worst climbs if we are totally knackered though!

I'll finish up with a couple of shots of the bike.


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A little news...

Well I did manage to get out over the bank holiday the driving hail and sleet. Pretty cold and wet but a good 1hr45min blast then off to the pub for a beer. Other riding has included taking Trevor and Hazel to the FoD for a nice jaunt in the woods which turned out a little tougher as the Dog Soldiers trail was still pretty wet and slippy. It was Hazels first proper mountain bike trail and she did really well to stay on the bike...better then Trevor and his new SPD pedals :)

Date for the GDR is set on the 26-29th of July so if anyone can arrange good weather for then in Wales it would be appreciated! I need to make a decision on the final packing and start taking all my kit on some rides to have a shake down even if I don't end up camping out.

Other big news is that I passed my driving test yesterday (at the age of 31!) so I can now borrow the Chav-mobile for rides further afield. Any one in the Cheltenham area looking to learn should give Colin Parry a ring as he was a great teacher and immensely patient even with my bumbling lack of coordination! On a completely different note Final / JK Broderick has a new EP out on download only (MP3 or FLAC) on his blog. 47mins of minimal bleeps and soundscapes....great for late night bike fettling.

Over and out


Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Fine tuning but no far

Still faffing with the kit and packing options. I have ditched the emergency foil bag as carrying a sleeping bag, bivvi bag and spare clothes should negate the need for a big bacofoil sack :) I am toying with the idea of a front rack to take the clothes and sleeping bag (in a drysack) so I only have to carry water on my back. The only problem is that the front racks are all pretty small top plates and fixing the bag on there might be tricky. The other option is a bar bag (which I had sold as I was using bar mounted bottles) from Carradice (their zipped roll bag) which can take snacks and waterproofs thus freeing up more space in the frame bag for clothes possibly?

I have made out a provisional menu for the trip and considering the proliferation of pubs and small towns along the way I should not need too many calories in the bag. I am planning porridge/sugar/dried fruit, Geobar and coffee for breakfast. Snacks include 100g of Billtong (jerky) nuts, dried fruit and spicy chickpeas. Evening meals will be in a pub although I will carry some emergency food incase the pubs are closed / out of food / not friendly!

A provisional date has been set so that gives me a target to aim at and a couple of months to try stuff out. My latest purchase that will require some testing / trial and error is a poncho / tarp. I was considering buying some SilNylon but this worked out the same price and was already assembled :) I will need to sort out various pitching options and procure some tent pegs and guy lines from my current tent selection to make a complete shelter but at about 400grams and 2m x 1.5m I think it will be worth taking along.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Still riding...

although Becca is getting faster now she is riding to work most days. I hvae the WTB Weirwolf 29x2.55's fitted and I am loving the floaty comfort and grip :)

Just tried out my GDR-UK loading on the bike and it all fits pretty well. The camelbak bladder is a little narrow and rounded compared with the pocket in the back of the AlpKit pack but it works OK. Loads of room in the rack pack for food and snacks in the frame bag. I might even put the waterproofs in the Gourdon as it only has my clothes and sleeping bag in it! Guess it depends on the weather!

Full kit list so far:

Frame Pack
Ft light
Rack bag
Rr light

£/Credit Card
Glasses cleaner
Montane Jacket
Montane Trousers
4x Lithium AA's
chain oil
Tool kit**

1st aid kit*
Bivvi bag
Camp soap
Ear plugs
Matches in ziplock bag
Mini lock
Scourer in ziplock bag
Sleeping mat
Ti Mug
Ti spork

Altura longs
Camelbak 2l bladder
Camera+case (Left-pocket)
Cycling shorts
Merino LS
Merino Cycling Jersey
Merino socks
Sleeping bag
Snacks (Right-pocket)

Baggy shorts
Cycling shoes
Cycling shorts
Merino Cycling Jersey
Merino socks
Summer gloves

1st Aid Kit*
3x Antiseptic wipes
2x Dressing
Foil blanket
Vitamin N
Latex gloves
2x Rehydration salts
Water purifier tabs
Safety pins

Tool Kit**
Chain links
Chainring bolt tool
Chainring bolts x2
Electrical tape
Gaffer tape
Leatherman knife
Puncture repair kit
Topeak Hexus multi tool
Tyre boot
Zip ties

So there you go, a tantalising list of kit. I have left out some info and particular models as its no fun if some one tells you everything! Have fun trying it for your self. I am still waiting on a couple of small bits (50ml bottles, Cyalume's and possibly a basha/cord/pegs if the weather looks iffy)

Check out dR jOhNs blog for the ultimate (?) bloody mary :)

Right, off to help my sister move house!


Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Sorry for the month long silence, not a huge amount has happened that was worth writing about. Minimal riding and motivation have given way to err, more riding and motivation! SSUK 08 was held at the weekend and I would like to thank all the oragnisers, helpers and staff for a great time. It was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. There was beer, whisky, great food and bad dancing. Oh and a bike race somewhere inbeween :)

Due to lots (ok, 3) of requests here are the recipies for the cak and flapjack Becca was handing out all weekend:

Chocolate Beetroot cake (from Green & Blacks Chocolate cookbook)

100g Drinking Chocolate
230g s/r flour
200g Caster sugar
100g Dark Choc (recipe says min 60% I use 70% in case the 10% makes a difference)
125g unsalted butter
250g cooked beetroot
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180

Butter and flour 18cm tin.

Sift together drinking chocolate and flour, then mix in the sugar.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a ban marie.
Puree the Beetroot.
Wisk the eggs then stir into the beetroot. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour into cake tin and bake for 50min.

Flapjack (from Nigella Lawson’s domestic goddess)

450g rolled oats
75g soft brown sugar (I use a light muscavado)
300g unsalted butter
50g golden syrup (I think its far to messy to way so use about 4 serving spoons or until the mixture smells more like golden syrup then butter!!!)

Preheat oven to 190.

Mix the oats and sugar. Melt butter and syrup gently over a low heat, once melted pour over oats and mix. Press into tin and cook for 20-25min.
While they are still warm (about 10min out of oven) cut into squares then leave to cool fully before removing from tin.

Photos will be fettled and added here as a mini slideshow and linked to my Picasa site soon (maybe tonight but I have loads to catch up on!) I only took about 6 photos and mainly around the Mabie red trail on Monday, Becca was snapping away during the race so she will take the credit for the shots ;)



Sunday, 6 April 2008

First batch of photos

Just spent a slightly hungover morning sorting and fettling the first batch of photos from the visit to the 101Sqd at Brize Norton. More to come once I get them off Becca's camera.



Saturday, 5 April 2008

I'm back!

Sorry the blogging has been a little sparse but I have had a busy time recently. Week last Friday I and 14 other supporters of Leonard Chcshire disAbility were guests of 101Sqd. on an air-to-air refueling mission that included taking fuel on to our VC10 from a TriStar then off-loading it to 3 Tornado F3's and a Tornado GR4. For a plane geek like me it was great and I still have 150 photos to sort through! Thanks to Flt Lt Mike Udall and the rest of the crew for allowing us along and answering our questions / not throwing us out the cargo hatch!

My article about the MTB Hiamachal race was published the same day in Singletrack Magazine (WHSmiths, Tescos or LBS for a copy) and I was chuffed it was on page 10 and had some good sized photos to go with it :) Fame and fortune here I come. I am also working on a conceptual art project with my Aunt (who is a famous artist in her own right) that is to do with bike although should have a broard appeal (are you listening Mr Sarchi?)

Riding has been stepping up begining with a great ride on Bank Holiday Monday in the FoD with the Ashton crew. We were some of the last there but managed to throw the bike together and get ready while people faffed. I felt a lot better on the bike although the 34:18 gear still feels a little tall for the climbs and tech stuff...guess I just have to TTFU :) Also met Becca for an after work ride up Harp hill and over Cleeve. While the lower section is rideable the second section past the resovoir is a killer and a good reason to walk. Once on the top it is still quite a way to the radio masts and on to the fun (and almost dry-ish) singletrack. It was great to get a 2hr+ ride in after work and only need lights for safety on the way home.

The lighter evening are not only great for riding but popping out for a beer after work. Now Becca is back at a reasonable hour (or even before me!) we can go for a drink with out ending up eating at 10pm!

So lots to report but no photos as of yet as I have been too busy with 101 other things to download them...may be Tuesday if the weather is as bad as it is forecast!

Over n out.


Monday, 24 March 2008

Some riding...

...and a lot of suffering. The ride on Tuesday was cut short due to my chest not liking the sub-zero air I was forcing into it as I puffed up the side of Prestcott Hill Climb course having already ridden from 'Nam to Gretton. I felt bad about bugging out as I was looking forward to a blast over Cleeve and a nice pint in the pub afterwards.

Fridays ride started from the Killkenny car park and the group took in 18 windswept, cold and muddy miles. The 34:18 seemed like a monster track gear, and Becca's Thursday afternoon jaunt over Cleeve had taken the wind out of her sails. It was such a tough ride in bad conditions I didn't take one photo and finished off a whole bag of Harribo towards the end just to keep going. To say that 6weeks off the bike and a chest infection has effected my performance might be an understatement! We made it back to the car and only missed out the last gravel track descent and road climb. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and eating, the effort to go to the pub was just too much!

The frame bags are proving really good and despite a few "nice kite" remarks the issue with side winds is pretty much non-existent even in the 35mph gusts on Friday. Becca can pack in a 750ml bottle, jacket, tools, pump, tube and camera in her bag and I can fit all that plus winter gloves, gillet and more snacks. The one thing I am re-evaluating are the bar mounted bottles which due to the drop-bar set up are pretty near my face when I duck under branches and have a tendency to start jumping out over rough ground. Some cold setting seems to have removed the "ejector bottle" problem but I am thinking about a 2l water rucksack so I can ditch the bar bottles and the one in the bag. As much as I hate lots of stuff on my back I think I can manage a basic camelbak with just water and £££ in it.

I still have to conduct a full test-pack for my bivvi gear (both basic S20ON and longer trips) but as the ride today is not until 4pm I guess I might do it now.

FoD pictures to follow.


Friday, 14 March 2008


The bags have arrived and I stole a few moments at lunch time to snap some pictures out side of the shop. Antibiotics are slowly making a difference but work has not helped with a stressful two-computer upgrade to RMS v2.0 and all the MySQL / Networking / Microsoft headaches involved. Oh, and now Becca is ill :(

No riding until probably Tuesday and then definately the Easter weekend.

Can't wait!


Thursday, 13 March 2008

Life on hold...

I am back to work just about although I am still pretty rough until the Corvonia and Ibuprofen kick in. Went to the Dr's today and ended up with some Amoxycillin 250mg which should clear up the nasty chest infection plus the nausea and blocked ear that came with it! For some one who is in pretty good health for decades at a time the start of 2008 has been a bad one. With luck this should be the last of it.

Still waiting on the frame bags. They are in the UK, Gloucester even, but Parcel Farce are living up to their name. First the site said they tried and failed to deliver them on Monday...not true as the shop was open and no big red truck turned up. So yesterday evening I re-scheduled delivery for today and rode the bike in so I could fit it straight away (I even got up early to fit the heli tape while I was having breakfast!) No dice. Now the on line lie generator is showing "HELD - Awaiting payment of charges" Now no one has seen the letter with the £x listed on it and the 13 digit number so I can pay it online and get the bags moving the 10miles from the depot to me, despite the insitance that it has been sent (by which carrier...just guess!).

I rang the depot and got through to a guy who how after a few false starts and confusion seemed to intimate that the parcel would be with me tomorrow and I could pay with a business cheque (best dig out the Solly cheque book and transfer some £££ into the account) So I will await the delivery tomorrow and if not I am tempted to pop round the depot and start kicking off as the "Express service" has just doubled in time scale with 50%+ of it being spent sitting on a shelf half an hour away!

One good thing that has kept me sane are the recent long posts by mc on his blog, great to see he is getting back into the writing thing and that 700see is finally on its way! Lots of good stuff to while away some time with so check it out. (Link on the right ---> )

OK, enough chesty-cough angst and patience deficit.


Friday, 7 March 2008

Still here...

...when its all working. The medication that is! I have been struck down by a nasty bout of man-flu and can only function when the Ibuprofen, Strepsils and Hot toddy are in pharmacological alignement :( Driving have been going well with the test at the end of April booked and some more 2hr lessons penned in for the next few weeks.

No shots of the revived bike yet as I am too shaky to ride it anywhere to get some good shots (like the park at the end of the road!) I should have the Carousel bag soon...tomorrow would be nice and will get some in-situ photos done ASAP. I have stolen these from Jeff's Flickr account, go and have a look at the sweet stuff he sews.

More next week


Becca's mini frame bag for her small 29er. Note the custom daisy logo (the bikes name)

My much larger twin compartment bag complete with waterproof lower zip to keep the tools dry :)

Friday, 29 February 2008

Moving along

Well I should finally pick up my frame, resplendant in its new powder coat, on Monday. Plan is to collect it with the headset in my bag and then swing by Williams Cycles on the way back to borrow the headset press (no, you can't borrow tools there...I work there so its different!) and then back home for some assembly and fettling. I have the week off with three aims in mind:

1) Learn to drive. I can physically drive, I just need the practice to pass the test (mid April)

2) Finish plastering the bedroom. Been on the cards for a while and now I need to finish it.

3) Assemble and ride my bike for the first time in almost a month.

Guess I will have wiped 33% of those off by 7pm slacking on the week off.

I got my BB back from Phil Wood who have fitted new bearings, serviced the axle (?) and supplied new rings. I am not sure as to what was up with it or how much it has cost me as the packing note does not list prices and the descriptive lines are cut off before imparting any information. I have emailed them but I am still awaiting a reply... My guess is that there was mud in the bearings, which given the reputation of Phil stuff and the 4 year old hubs I am running on the same bike, is a bit odd. No I don't jet-wash the bike...I don't even have a hose in the yard. Bucket of water, FS-10 and a sponge all the way :)

Got an email from Jeff to say the frame bags are ready and I Paypal'd him the balance and shipping...just a matter of waiting now, which is the one bit I am not tooo good at! I also added to my bike packing kit with a pair of flip-flops for longer trips where you might want to change for dinner (ie T-shirt, shorts and sandals for a pub meal, not a suit for 4 courses at The Fat Duck...I wish!) I guess at £2 and <150g I guess it was a no-brainer!

I have planned the total of the GDR-UK/Stag ride out on MemoryMap, while I was only going to plan the off-road section I guess it can't hurt to have the whole lot on the GPS, especially with the complex Chester to Ruthin sections with its inneumerable small roads and off-set junctions.

I'll leave you with a picture stolen from mc's site of his fixie, such a nice simple (if gangly) bike.


Monday, 18 February 2008

All quiet on the biking front...

Well not quite but not a lot of MTB-ing going on despite the good weather! Lee has moved some cable guides on my frame and shot blasted it and tomorrow I am taking it over to Stroud to be powder coated. Most of the other bits are in place for the re-build with only cable inners and Rock n' Roll "cable magic" lube to land on the door mat.

Becca's bike is having a little TLC too as she had fried her front and rear brake pads so I took the opertunity to add some in-line cable oilers to keep the V-brake noodle running sweet and check the drive chain. Well I can say that the chain bends as far sideways as it does up and down! Not bad for an almost 2 year old PC48! The cheapy chainring is toast, partly due to the "bash ring" helping to keep all sorts of crap on it and grinding the chain away. A shiny SRAM PC-870 and Middleburn hardcoat / single ring bolts should sort that out!

I also added some new finishing kit as she managed to crimp her bars at the weekend (putting on loc-on grips no less!) So I have I new Titec stem, seatpost and Flattracker bars on order at silly money. She never liked the shot-peened silver anyway so the new Johnny Cash black stuff will improve the look!

I should hear from Jeff at Carousel soon and the guys at Phil Wood who have my "grindy with a little play after a year" BB back...most weird. Hope to be getting some nice packages from over the pond soon then :)

I have planned out the bulk of the GDR route and just need some PC time to sort out the off-road sections on MemoryMap for putting on the GPS. As much as I would like to leave it behind the GPS is very handy and avoids me buying / carrying too many maps :) Loks like a 4day trip from Chester all the way down Wales and back over the boarder to the Forest of even ends up on the Dowies trail :)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Yeah, in an attempt to motivate myself for the forthcoming "season" I am intending to try some "smacktalk" thanks to Dicky for the inspiration :) Bear with me as it does not come naturally to a slightly repressed middle-class English chap.

The "Bike of Doom" is all stripped down, but not like the dissassembled T-101 at the end of the Terminator film (films 2 and 3 don't count), more like the bionic man awaiting to be re-built faster, better, stronger. Some new bits to upgrade the killing capacity against geared bikes and coasting wusses (and to remove the clicking in the crank and headset!)

Frame is getting some powder coat in a top secret colour that will allow me to blend in with the scenery until I strike (Note to self: kill powder coaters after to keep secret safe). To allow me to stalk my prey for longer Jeff at Carousel is working on a frame bag to allow me to spend days lying in wait for an over-weight middle manager riding a skill-compensator to crush. The twin handle bar mounted bottles and Brooks saddle will get nods of approval from the old boys in the pub who remember 6-day events between the wars. Almost as satisfying as the ridicule from the camelbak pack-animals who just don't get it.

Having stripped it down I thought I would weigh the parts and frame, just because, well I am a geek. I would love to say that it was 6.66kg but after the digital scales stopped flashing "EvIL eRR0R" it turned out to be 4.45lbs for the frame and about 26lbs all up with Mich 29x2 tyres and slime tubes. Weight means nothing if it fails, I tell all the weight weenies this as my monster truck rolls over their Euro-Carbon paperweight as they attempt to fix it. "To finish first, first you must finish"

To allow faster running down and dispatch of the weak prey (hey, no point making them suffer too much) I am installing a pair of WTB Weirwolf 29x2.55" tyres...yep they fit in the back of the frame...with room to spare. BIG volume (like a Slayer gig) and a huge contact patch (sasquatch?) will allow me to ride like its an XC full-sus with none of the "should I 'push' 'pull' or 'wiggle' my shock...oh its blown anyway" shnaniganns. Inflate to <30psi and roll 'em.

Clad in natural Merino fibers I will be invisible to all sensors and scanners, the only thing that will announce my arrival will be silence and a sudden lack of single malt. Don't expect a fanfare, shouting, toe-to-toe confrotations or beer-can crushing. Just a thin guy on a bike pedalling like buggery, surfing the catastrophy curve as it intersects the singeltrack.

So thats the plan, SSUK08, GDR-UK and trails all over the country will feel the wrath of my two-wheeled juggernaut of doom. Or something.


Awww crap

Really a sad day.

So long and thanks for all the bikes.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Back in the saddle...sort of

Well for the first time in a while I feel pretty good. Being back on solid food is one big factor and a little sunshine today helped is over and spring is just around the corner...please allow me my dillusions!

No work today (as its my day off) but I have not been lazy, far from it. Being able to venture out I decided to run some errands so I loaded up 2 big boxed of stuff for the charity shop (Emmanus, Cheltenham for those who want a rummage for Playstation games or rock/metal CD's) and rode over to drop them off before heading up town to the pet shop for 2 bags of kitty litter then back home to drop them off. Back out to take some paper and pedals to work and collect a couple of jiffy bags so I could post my lights. The last trip was to the building suppliers for a bag of plaster and a few other bits I need to be getting on with this week while the motivation to finish the bedroom is still here.

Not sure of the total weight I hauled but I think that it would have filled the back of a regular car! Again the Xtracycle pays for its self.

I might make a trip up to the garage to collect the MOT and V5 for Becca's new car but I am pretty bushed and the weather is not looking too great so I might leave that for tomorrow lunch time.

Still some stuff for sale, please see yesterdays (now edited) listing with photos.

Over n out.


Sunday, 20 January 2008

D n' V blues

Yep, I have had the dreaded D+V virus and have been laid up for over 2 days now. I am on the mend but it really knocked me back both physically and mentally. I hate not doing stuff and lying in a room that is only half plastered / 10% decorated was not great. Thankfully Radio4, Iain M Banks and HH The Dali Lama kept me occupied and interested.

The clear out continues with bags, lights and odds-n-sods being the next to go. Details and photos below:

Source hydration pack (no bladder) only about 3-4l storage but enough for day rides plus 2-3l of water. Nice tear-drop shape and strenum strap keep it stable £10

Carradice zipped roll, used for 4 years and apart from some cossmetic scuffing in great condition £10


Topeak wedge bag, the big one with expanding zip and qr straps. £8

Kirkland HUGE bumbag, probably big enough for S24ON trips if you pack carefully. Two big compartments and loads of compression straps and lashing points. Nice wide padded hipbelt and 2" clickfix buckle. £12

Avid Shoirty4 canti. Brand new and never fitted let alone used. £12

Pace 38t chainring. 110BCD / 5arm old style. Used but life left and no shifting ramps so great for singlespeeds/fixies. £10

Paragon cowled dropouts
. Replaceable hanger steel dropouts for frame building. Spare (shotblasted, so a little rough) hanger included £12

Paragon Sliders
. 3x gear sided with mech hanger and one NDS disc slider. For use with Paragon steel or Ti sliders. £15 the lot

Prices include first class UK postage and all will be sent recorded post. Payment via Paypal to singlespeedpunk AT gmail DOT com and use the same email for any more questions.

That is all...


Thursday, 10 January 2008

Fizzing at the bung

A great expression I got from an Kiwi guy on MTBR. It means to be really excited about something. Well I spoke to Jeff at Carousel Designs last night and I have just sent a deposit for two frame bags (one for Becca and one for yours truly) Speaking to Jeff was great and reminded me why I like the fringes of the bike trade...its the infectious enthusiasm and sense of adventure. I have been lucky enough to experience it several times from people like Paul Turner and Frank S at Maverick, MC, Guri at Star, and a bunch of other guys who are really into their work/fun and want to share it.

This is not to be confused with zealots who force their ideas on you and become a little overbearing (Cloxxki? :) ) Its the good-natured, puppy-tail wagging sense of fun that make me smile and lay down £ and time in their venture.

Now I have told you all how to fleece warned theres not a lot to gain!

Now for the clear out. Email me at singlespeedpunk (at) gmail (dot) com if you want anything. Prices include postage to the mainland UK.

1) XTR M900 canti brake (only 1) with salmon KoolStop pads (plenty of life left) £15

2) Avid Shorty4 canti, never used or fitted £15

3) Avid 160mm Roundagon 6bolt rotor. Not bent/warped, with bolts £10

4) Avid IS 51mm mount, for 160mm / front £5

5) Mavic MA3 32h black rim, life left, not bent TAKEN

6) Mavic MA3 36h black, even better as used on fixie (no braking!) £10 (£5collection)

7) Mavic OpenSport 32h silver, loads of life as replaced to match (trashed) front rim :) TAKEN

8) Pair 26x2.5 street tyres, off Saracen Pylon "urban MTB" with tubes. Only a few commuting miles and up for sale as total over kill on Xtracycle. £20 the pair (£15 collected)

Thats all for now. Big bundle (20+) metal/punk/industrial CD's to come when I get round to listing them. Probably <£1 a CD!



Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Err, hello again

Sorry for the break in service there but i have had a pretty busy (and stressful) christmas and new year. The stress was mainly confined to work and I did get in a couple of great rides as well as seeing frined and family.

A few things on the go now, I have my SSUK entry so I will be heading up to Scotland in May...probably bikepacking for a couple of days to make the trip worth it. To help me in this I am ordering a custom full frame bag from Jeff @ Carousel Design Works. I plan to have a bottle on the bars and carry a 1l bottle in the bag along with tools, tubes, stove, food and other heavy stuff leaving the (higher and further away from the CoG) rack pack for the light stuff like sleeping bag and clothes. Becca is also getting a mini frame pack as her frame is so small fitting a seat pack is a nightmare and she hates barbags. It should enable her to carry all her food, water and junk on day rides with out me acting as pack animal :)

Other than that I have been doing a little (very over due) DIY and planning the wedding...although I still have to book the disco (quickly adds to list) My article should be in the next issue (Feb time) of SingleTrackWorld if Chipps can find the photo CD again :)

The 2008 MTB Himachal is open for entries and is slightly earlier this year (late Sept) Go on, you know you want to!

I am also having another clear-out that includes some bike stuff, info to follow later in the week.

OK, all for now.