Sunday, 31 January 2010

Practicing: Take2

Nice ride in the FoD today despite the early start as Sheldon has to drive to Poland this afternoon! Nice 18-20miles around the woods with plenty of hills and techy trails. Dungeons and Dragons trail is pretty muddy and cut up, logging operations have not helped and the boardwalk is missing although it did not stop The Swede making the drop! I rode with all my Nepal kit / in the clothing I will use and it all worked fine, I even lost the jacket after the first climb as it was warming up to 1 or 2 deg C. Bag worked well and only a little strap adjustment as I drank the water from the wrap-around bladder.

Bike did great and the new DX thumbshifter is much better than the XT pod I was using. I put the Stout back on the front for extra grip in the sludgy conditions but the rear Weirwolf did really well in the bad conditions and gave a little cushioning on the frozen ruts.

I have packed my pedals with grease again and loctited the nuts on, this should be the last time I touch them but the right one is getting a little loose on the inboard bushing...I'll keep and eye on it.

Wise words from Mikesee: "Build it strong, build it comfey, use loctite"

Pretty worn out now, beef stew and dumplings for tea :)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

First ride out

After a quick trip into work I was able to escape for a couple of hours to give the pack and the new bike set up a try over Cleeve Hill and 3deg temps. All the kit worked well and the bag did not stress my shoulders and neck at all. The 6gears certainly helped especially across the sucky wet grass of doom towards the Pylons (Locals will know this one!) The bike is shod with WTB Weirwolf 2.55s and they are running Bonty tubes...the last two with removable valves so I can add some Bonty Super Juice that apparently will work with tubes and not only those troublesome tubeless setups.

Lusso leg warmers have two great resons to buy them: they are super long, even with my long legs the go from ankle to crotch with no problems. They are also super warm and pretty windproof which for a chilly descent over Harp Hill (or Thorung La) is what you need. Also pretty water repellant. £18 well spent.

The MP3 charger has turned up along with 2 AA Lithium batteries...not bad for £2.30 from FleaBay. Battery charger for the camera has been added (174g) but I might try and source a shorter 2pin plug flex as 1.5m is a little excessive!

More riding tomorrow, if my legs can take it!


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ouch! x3

Ouch one is that I have just been for my jabs for the trip. Due to a pretty comprehensive pin-cushion session before India I only needed a Hep-A booster :)

The second ouch was the cost of my new Passport that arrived today, £77.50 for 32 lovely pages to fill...not that I used more than a dozen in the last one over the last decade...I blame the EU as you don't get a stamp going to the continent any more :(

And number 3 is that I seem to have been suffering from a quantum case of Kathmandu-belly and have been felling as rough as a badgers behind for the last 3 days, hopefully I am over the worst of it as I am bored senseless sat in the house. I did get to read the Lonely Planet guide book for Nepal.

While it contains much useful information there are quite a few chapters on all the terrible stuff that could happen (and if you believe some people will) as soon as you step off the 'plane. I am not sure if they are mentioning it to legally cover their asses or to disuade nervous people from venturing abroad but having traveled before I can't see too many problems with Nepal.

Last thing to sort is the insurance, camera charger and batteries and fettle the bike...which will be a days work in its self!

Bike stuff includes:
Loc-titeing all nuts and bolts,
Getting the bike box and packing sorted,
Fitting a thumb shifter (and possibly new cable and outer...damn),
Re-wrapping bar tape,
Stopping the Ourys moving all over the place,
Changing brake pads (I'll keep the old ones for spares),
Saddle angle adjustment.
...the list goes on

I want to get all this done in good time so I can spend a month shaking it down with a full pack. Tyre choice (having pored over photos of the area) will be WTB Weirwolf 2.55" with probably Bonty self-sealing tubes (my slime ones are past it...add to the list of stuff to do!) as they give good grip and comfort at low pressure and pumped up hard will roll fast on reasonable surfaces...even tarmac should I encounter any!

Right, might try some food and see if it does not bolt for the exit!


Sunday, 17 January 2010

The low down for the kit weenies

So here is the current iteration of the kit I intend to take and the bike set up (well the gears any way)

First up the gears, as described in my last post its an 8sp cassette minus the 11 and 30t sprockets. XT mech and old 8sp pod shift the SRAM PC58 chain. No dropping issues which is a shame as I really like the Paul Chain Keeper :) Shifting has been pretty good considering the two weeks of snow / slush and salt that has been thrown at it. Cleaned on Thursday night and oiled as there was a little noise from it but still working fine. I might have to go back to Finish Line Wet lube as the Rock N Roll King of Lubes might be a little out of its depth in this bad weather. Teflon tandem gear cable and standard gear outer (full length) are working fine and will do for years :)

Right, the kit. I have picked up a Inov-8 30 bag and bladder. The bladder sits on the lower back and wraps round the wing pockets and looks to keep the weight low down on your hips (ie how rucksacks are meant to be worn...CamelBak take note!) It fits really well as it is really long in the back compared to other 30L light weight bags.

I have got everything inside the bag (and a little room to spare) and the mesh side pockets are free for snacks / souvenirs / Kukris :) Total weight with 2L of H2O is 17.6lbs

Right the kit: (left to right from top)

Top row:

Crank Bros pump, Topeak tool, Gerber micro, tube, puncture kit / zip ties / chan links / tyre boot etc... [missing Avid pads, gear and brake cable]
Alpkit Headtorch, 3x AAA spares.
BBB Glasses and case, cleaning cloth.
Ricoh CX1, LowePro case, 2x spare batteries and 2 memory cards.
Sandisc Clip 8Gb MP3 player and head phones [missing 2x Lithium AA's and charger]
Sun screen (SPF50), hand wash, Chlorine Diox, Lipbalm in ditty bag (waist pocket on bag)
First aid kit; inc syringes and hypodermic needles, painkillers. [missing Imodium, Diamox and wide spectrum antibiotics which I will get in Kathmandu]
Leatherman lock knife
Mini-towel (A3 size) and 40 antibacterial wetwipes

2nd Row:

Cotton trousers and linen shirt casual / flight clothes
2x Chocolate Fish Merino T-shirts
Chocolate Fish Merino long sleeve zip neck
Lifeventure multi soap (will take 100ml bottle due to restrictions, 200ml shown)
Toilet paper, toothbrush and paste, glasses cleaner, ear plugs, Otravine (all wash kit fits in blue ditty bag)

3rd Row:

Montane Velocity jacket
Montane Velo over trousers
Silk sleeping bag liner
Swerve Cycling cap (waterproofed)
Chocolate Fish Merino boxers and longjohns
Chocolate Fish Merino beanie
Silk glove liners
Long wool socks
Chocolate Fish Merino socks
BBB winter gloves
Lusso Repel thermal leg warmers

Bottom Row:

Karrimor Global 900 synthetic sleeping bag (good to 0deg C, -5 with liner + merino layer)
Inov-8 Pro 30L pack and 2L bladder.

Not shown:

Topeak XL seat bag (for tubes, tools and pump)
2x 600ml bottles on the bike
2m electrical tape (on bike)
4m Gaffer tape (on bike)
Snacks for along the trail - bought locally.

And it all fits in this:

Not shown are the clothes I will be wearing:

Endura FS-260Pro bib shorts
Rapha 3/4 shorts
Fox Racing Merino short sleeve top
Chocolate Fish Merino socks
Cheap watch
Prescription glasses
Bell helmet
TNF Hedgehog GoreTex shoes
SBC long finger gloves

Thats all for now. I need to see about getting the bike strapped to the backpack for those long carry sections :)


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Back on the bike at long last

Well I have been commuting by bike every dau for 9mths but off-road recreational riding has been pretty thin on the ground.

2010 started with a cold, slightly hung over pootle in the FoD and we crammed another one in on Sunday too with Sheldon / Mandi and the usual suspects. Really good fun. It was also the first time since 2002-3 that I have ridden with gears. < pauses to hear all the jaws hit the floor and awaits a Ray Capo like backlash... >

Yes gears, only 6 of them so its not like I can't handle it. As background I got an email on the 27th Dec from my good friend Joe who I raced with in India a couple of years ago. He had a crazy idea to bike round the Annapurna Circuit this spring going super light stylee and mixing in some sight seeing, great food and mountains. Well how could I turn it down? Work are OK and I have booked the time off, flight booked and most of the kit sorted (and weighed!) One thing Joe did say was that it would need gears due to extended climbing at altitude and long, gradual downhills (that worry me more than the climbs!)

He also advised 26" wheels incase of needing spares...I'll (have to) take my chances on that one.

I have a source for custom boxes and a double thickness box will be about £25. I plan to take both wheels off and strap them either side of the frame and also remove the bars, seatpost and pedals. This should make for a much more manageable box to get in the airport / between planes / on to taxis. With the tools and first aid kit in there everything else can go in my carry on bag (25-30L rucksack!..we are going light!)

Merino will feature heavily in my clothing but I have also got a silk sleeping bag liner and glove liners on their way. The flat DMR V12s (with longer pins) are great with the TNF shoes I have and mean that I can take one pair of shoes. Grip is easily as good as the Time ATAC and a damn site easier to walk in / step on or off in. The old (new-ish) shoes and old but servicable pedals will be going on STW soon.

So the gears, you can fit 6 8sp cogs on to a Hope SS rear hub. I disassembled the 8sp cassette from Becca's Bontrager and also borrowed the shifter pod, rear mech and chain. I lost the 11t and 30t cogs so I have 13-15-17-20-23-26 x 32 range which seems pretty sensible and I have had no issues with the chain coming off the Middleburn Uno ring. I would put this down to a tight chain, tall teeth and no ramps or pins. I might get a Paul Chain Keeper if it is an issue but at the mo' its all cool.

In slightly related news Mark Slate has announced the BlackBuck frame will be in 3 sizes with a new fork and a really nice looking head badge. Check 29er forum for more info.

Right enough spew, just to say that all up pack weight with 2L of water will be 18.1Lbs :)