Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Not Good...

I walked out of a biking film at the weekend after about, oh, seven minutes or so. It was called Not Bad, ironically maybe it was not so much not bad as bloody awful. It kind of encapsulated all that's depressing about mountain biking culture - the back story, a bunch of riders sponsored by Trek are shipped out to a beautiful, remote area of New Zealand where they behave like a bunch of overgrown teenagers.

This is a film where food fights are the height of entertainment. Where drinking beer is considered hilarious. Where words of more than one syllable are edited out so as not to alienate the audience. It is a culture utterly devoid of any sort of intelligence.

How's that happened? Is it because mountain biking grew up in a post-literature era of instant internet gratification and YouTube bike porn? Is it because mountain bikers are simply stupid? Is it because of the film-makers editing out any vestige of thoughtful reflection?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for some sort of philosophical analysis of why we ride and what it all means, I'd just like to be able to watch a mountain biking film without feeling that my intelligence is being insulted. And trust me, I'm not that bright.

Oh, and one more thing, the music was bloody awful too.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Globetrotter returns...

Meet the Ragskey... as far as I know, he's one of a kind. The world's only fat curved downtube, fat headtubed, 27.2mm seat-posted Ragley Ti. Looks ace, rides even better and looks good with a Sock Monkey.

Huge thanks to Mark Lynskey and the boys over in Chattanooga, Tennessee for finally sorting out a very confusing warranty situation and taking the time and effort to make things right when arguably they didn't have to. And thanks to, to Hotlines for their part in the process. 

Not sure how I ever ended up dealing directly with Lynskey's head honcho when technically I should have been talking solely to the shop who sold me the frame in the first place, but top marks to Mark for responding so quickly and positively when I e-mailed him, explaining why the initial warranty job was as it was - smaller curved downtube, 27.2 seat tube - and for agreeing to sort things out.

It's taken a while, but it's been worth it. It looks like a Ragley Ti with a curved downtube ought to look and it rides beautifully with a sort of controlled, 'faster, faster' urgency everywhere. Stunning.




Friday, 4 October 2013

I miss my bike...

I am conflicted. I miss my Ragley Ti in a way which is not reasonable. It cracked around six months ago, went back to Lynskey to be repaired, came back looking wrong and is now back in Chattanooga, Tennessee being fixed.

And while I know that riding bikes is about riding and not owning. The process not the means. I miss the thing. Ultimately, I guess, because it's so good that it's transparent, it doesn't come between you and the riding. Which meant it was a default choice - as in, going mountain biking? Which bike? The Ragley.

Which means that now, although I'm lucky enough to have a choice of several bikes, the internal dialogue runs: going mountain biking? Which bike? The Ragley... oh :-/

Clearly it's wrong to miss an inanimate object quite so much, but here's the thing. At a point where a lot of stuff was grey and messy and painful, that bike was a sort of gleaming, uncomplicated, beacon of near perfect rightness.

Never mind.



Saturday, 14 September 2013

Cut Gate By Cross Bike

Tell you what, if someone had told me, say two years ago, that I'd one day ride a cross bike over Cut Gate I'd have been extremely dubious. As in disbelieving. Incredulous. And both amused and horrified.

Which made last Sunday's 50-mile Very Stoopid Loop outing with a bunch of Three Peak Cyclocross 'we are training for' peeps a bit of a sanity test.

But actually it was fine. Okay, I crashed dramatically twice, both oddly enough trying to muscle the thing up slightly rocky climbs, okay, one big rock step, one rubbly thing, but mostly it turned out to be fine.

Part of that is that after a dry summer when it's been regularly ridden, the line on Cut Gate is nicely swept of babyheads and defined and part of it is that I'm running 700x38 Bontrager CX0 tyres tubeless converted on the Soma.

So it's sort of a monster cross or a gravel road cruiser. Or maybe just a cross bike with big tyres on, eh?

I kind of like it. You can hit rocky things hard and while it won't exactly float over them, nor will it slam the rubber against the rims and pinch flat on every vaguely rocky descent. I could run lower pressures, I think, but I also know that it's quite possible to pinch full UST tyres - thank you Ragley Blue Pig for that lesson - and that a 700x38 is only something around 1.5" - it is limited.

Anyway, it was amusing. Funny even, apart from the bit when I rolled down the steep bank of ferns and the bike decided to pursue me in a vengeful sort of way. It reminded me forcibly of riding rigid mountain bikes 20 or so years ago with a bit of all-over body fatigue. And the company was good. It also made me glad I'm not doing the Three Peaks.

So now all I have to do is convince my brain that it's okay to do Dusk Till Dawn as a fun pair without being sharp or trained or particularly motivated.

And now I'm going to eat porridge and go road riding. On my home patch. For fun.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Alpine Roadie...

Back from a brilliant 11 days in the Alps riding, mostly, up big alpine cols. What is there to say? Long steady climbs. Considerate motorists. Ridiculous full replica kit-wearing peacocks. Galibier. Croix de Feux. Alp d'Huez. Cutting hairpins uphill. And down. Birthday hotels. Wine. Croissants. Not together. French beef. Sunshine. Laughter. Tired legs. Ace company. Shazza. Mog. And a sort of half-formed plan to do the Marmotte next year. Yes together.



Top of the Col du Glandon. Relatively steep. Relatively fast. Bonkers scenic. Mogtastic descent. I love the turbine howl of Exalith in the morning.


Less scenery, more road. Love the col mentality that says it's fine to stop your car in the middle of the road at the summit of any col while you stand there taking photos. Looking at the view. Looking gormless. Must be the altitude. Gasp.


The view down the valley. That's the middle bit of the Glandon snaking away in the middle distance. Funny thing. Imagine Holme Moss plonked down in the middle of that lot, it'd barely register. Looking forward to seeing the Tour de Yarkshire peleton steaming up that next year. I can't imagine it'll take long.

And why is it that you always leave in summer and return in autumn. How does that work?