Thursday, 28 April 2011


Rode Cut Gate out and back last night from the front door. On the Pace. Wondering why on earth I'd set the bars up quite so high. I think the Ragley's got to me. Anyway, cracking evening, dry, loose, dusty. Funny riding suspension again, but a bonus in the flat half-light when rocks look like shadows and shadows look like drops and drops don't really look like anything till you launch off them. I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and slowed down. I'm starting to realise now that I'm not that quick at night. Maybe because I can't see anything. Mind you, the dust made it worse. But I'm not complaining about that.

Monday, 25 April 2011


Hello, yes, AA please. No, no, it's a bike, a guest bike. No, it's not mine, but I am an AA member. It has a flat tyre, again. Yes. The seventh in around three rides. No, no, I don't have a pump, it was out of my pack because I was patching tubes again and forgot to put in back in. The tyres? Continental Race CX... Hello, er, hello...


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Ace Proper Big Life Adventures...

Short but ace. Popped into Manchester yesterday to visit my mates Rich and Shona at their new bike shop in the Northern Quarter and it's just lovely. Not just a cracking shop, though it is, and not just full of rather nice bikes, which is it, but properly life affirming to see your mates embarked on a real, proper, big life adventure.

I've known Rich for what feels like ages now, but is probably something around ten years. Back then he ran a car wash, which seems unlikely now, and had only just a started riding mountain bikes. Fast forward a bit and he was riding bikes a lot.

Rich, Shona and added celebratory bubbly, Keep Pedalling now up and, erm, pedalling...
And not only riding them, he'd also managed to sneak his way into a job as one of the partners at the Bicycle Doctor co-operative in Manchester. And somehow he re-found Shona, a small bundle of feisty fell-running dreadlocks soaked in years of epic travelling and retail experience along the way.

Fast forward a bit more and they're running their own, brand spanking new shiny bike shop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. And yes, this is a party political broadcast on behalf of Keep Pedalling and I'm completely and utterly biased cos they're my mates, but honestly, if I was looking for a friendly, helpful, knowledgeable bike shop in central Manchester run by people who give a f***, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather go.

And with that, I'm going to drink more coffee. Write a quick Royal Weddding Stoopid Loop Street Party invitational e-mail and high tail it outta here on Captain Mechanical, the special guest cross bike with added puncture content. Pedal :-)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Mechanical Mayhem Day...

Cracking day of mechanical destruction and incompetence, mostly other people's for a change - started off with William, Dave's lad, noticing that his chain felt a bit rough, it was 100% dead on a new cassette. Doh... Fitted a new chain for him before he went off to Dalby, then headed out into the Peak.

This bit involved no mechanicals, just chickens, tea and cake.

Spotted the universal symbol of distress - upturned bike with head-scratching riders at the bottom of New Allotments. Broken chain and no chain tool. Or multi-tool. Or joining link. Fixed it and gave them my spare link. Good karma, I thought.

Twenty minutes later on the Roych, upturned bike number two with rider flagging me down - 'Do you have a pump we could borrow?' Er, and the rest, an inner tube and some tyre levers. Because the spare tube had a big hole in too. More karma.

Looking back down the approach to Jacob's Ladder. A nice walk for a slow, unfit,
technically useless excuse for a mountain biker.

Last steep climb of the day. Turned left at the top of the cobbles. Keeping it smooth and, boof, snapped chain. So much for karma. Fixed it by taking out dead links and pushing pin back in and minced home very carefully.

Popped in to see Dave Next Door who's been building some Kona carbon hardtail as a race bike. The headset looked odd. The headset looked odd because for some reason, Dave had managed to fit the top bearing cover, the dome-shaped thing, in place of the crown race. On a zero stack, fat-tube headset. With a large hammer and a screwdriver.

Thank god for crown race removers. Disassembled it in the grip of a special sort of wonderment. Dave is a qualified mountain bike leader and has passed a test of his basic mechanical skills. Not sure I have much confidence in test standards any more.

On the plus side, I had some nice cake at the farm near Barber Booth. And I have vague hopes that there may be just a little good karma left over if I don't laugh too much at the headset thing. I did promise Dave I wouldn't tell anyone about that particular debacle though. No karma whatsoever I guess then... Oh well.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Eccentric sheep...

Less complicated than an external eccentric bottom bracket...

I will kick your arse today so I can kick it again tomorrow and the day after that...

I'm sure there was a time when I could ride a singlespeed quite competently, but the newly built up one-cog Setavento seems to have its own bastardised motto: 'I will kick your arse today so I can kick it again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that too...'

The enemy in close-up vision - 32/17, almost a magic ratio.
Which is nice. For something relatively simple, it's been relentlessly complicated. Sticking the external eccentric BB on was fiddly and means slacking and re-tightening 12 set screws and the whole HT2 crank gubbins into the bargain.

And then there was the chainline, 10mm or so out, cue lots of interesting mechanical coffee grinder noises. Sorted after a thoughtful session with a steel rule and some spacer rehasing.

In profile with no relevant details even vaguely visible.
And then there was the creaking... the seatpost, silenced I think, with lashings of grease and some assertive clamp tightening. And the set up. The vento's basically a ti copy of a Rocky Ridge, which means a higher than average front end, fine with gears, not so clever when you're trying to muscle up some rubbly, steep local Peak horror with just the one. Ended up with a flipped stem and a set of On One Fleegles.

And at a dapper angle after leg collapse.
Seems to have done the trick though, weight forward and down, front end feels completely different - really planted even with the wide bars and no longer doing the pannicky, wandering thing on steep ups. I even quite like the Fleegle, sort of a no-rise riser with a fair bit of sweep, though need to mess around with the angles and the attitude in more ways than one.

Now if my legs would just get with the program... Normally takes them a couple of weeks, toes crossed.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Been riding my road bike, lots, trying to make up for lost time - carefully - and get my legs back. Feeling somewhat slow and lumpy. And I've been tinkering with things. Notably my old ti Setavento frame with original Marin Rocky Ridge geometry.

Everything's Gone Ti...

It was just sitting there looking light and fast and redundant, so I singlespeeded it with the bits off the Wanga, which I've always liked but found a bit twitchy on the rocky stuff, particularly with its seized carbon seatpost set at optimum over-the-bar altitude...

Getting singlespeeded...
Thing is, I don't like singlespeed tensioners and the 'vento has vertical drop-outs. The answer turned out to be a Forward Components outboard eccentric bottom bracket. Made in Canada, it's HT2 compatible and gives around a half-link's worth of adjustability at the BB.

Slightly fiddly to set up, but it does what it says on the box and, thankfully, 32/17 on the 'vento turned out to be a near 'magic ratio'. Not sure how the bearings will last or if the 12 little set screws that hold the revolving eccentric bearing housings will stay in position, but it's neat and clean and once I'd adjusted the chainline to suit, does that magically smooth and quiet singlespeed thing quite pleasingly.

Getting new paint and some cable-guide modification...
Flipped the stem - Thomson upside down spells, erm - to lower the cockpit slightly and put a little more weight on the front wheel and I have to say, it looks quite nice, weighs around 23 and a half pounds with an old 130mm Revelation Air U-Turn and fattish, Peak-friendly tyres  and I'm kind of looking forward to riding it.

[I was? Hmmm... flipping the stem wasn't enough, this thing needs a lower front end, break out the alternative flat but wide bars with some sweep please. And a non-creaking head-set that works, I'd forgotten how grumpy that mark one Hope thing was... A slightly slacker Wanga might just be singlespeed better.]

A Slacker RC405?

Tinkering part two - ordered a custom angleset-type thing for the RC405 - idea is to slacken the head angle by 2˚ to make it a bit more Ragley like and stop me riding off the edge of the trail every time I swap bikes plus add some downhill stability. It'll drop the bottom bracket slightly and steepen the seat angle by a corresponding 2˚ as well - nominally that's 75˚, which is steep, proper front of saddle stuff, but it all depends on rear sag too and where the saddle sits on the post.

Getting slacker? Vroom...
I'm thinking it might allow a 150mm fork to work without screwing the climbing up, which is what it does as standard, and that I'll probably need a shorter stem, as per a Ragley. Hard to know exactly what the geometry will do. The Pace figures are all with a 130mm fork - 68.5˚ head angle, 73˚ seat tube I think - but I run a 140mm Pike, so slightly slacker and a fair bit of sag at the rear, so I figure the current effective geometry on the trail is a little slacker than Pace quotes to start with.

I guess it might all go horribly wrong, but if it does, hey, it's just a question of swapping back to the standard head-set again. And if it works, it'll be a trail-friendly, 130mm/150mm full susser with a slack front end for downs and a steep enough seat tube to keep things on track on the climbs...

Crossed fingers eh...

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Went for a ride. Without intent. In a mellow sort of way. Learned that the Ragley doesn't really do mellow, it needs thrashing. And that it's something like spring out there. Quite nice really. And I took that bloody photo again, but with a different bike...

The view the other way for once with waterproof feet wondering what they're for.

Home trails.


I could get used to this you know, really I could. Though a bit less rubble would be nice.