Tuesday, 28 June 2011


I stuck 1.75 Smart Sams on the Road Rat last week, took off the front mech cos it fouled the tyre and stood back for a look. The idea was that it might give it more ability on the rocky stuff without hitting road and hardpack speed too badly.

Hmmm.... in reality it seems to be bloody horrible. First, compared to Maxxis Raze cross tyres, the Smart Sams drag on tarmac. Next, while they're more comfortable on rocky terrain, you're still on a rigid drop-bar bike and you still know it. And it looks sort of horrible cruising the borderline between monster cross and drop-barred 29er in an ugly, drunken, badly-proportioned sort of way.

The one place where it did seem to make sense was barreling down a hard, gravelly, easy bit of trail where it rolled fast enough and took some of the ping out of the terrain. I guess if I lived somewhere composed of miles and miles of gravel track, it might make sense, but for me, living here, proper cross tyres seem like a better, faster, more versatile compromise and have the bonus that you don't look quite such a niche twat.

Anyone want to buy a pair of barely ridden Smart Sam 29er tyres in 1.75" size?

Missed a trick though, it could have been so many twattish niches in one bike - imagine, a fixed, singlespeed, monster-crossed, drop-barred, steel-framed 29er, with 'alternative' Midge drops and cable disc brakes. Dodged a bullet there... or maybe an RPG round.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Me! Me! Me!

Might have written this... slow, weak, rider coming through on your, erm, left, or er... or not.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Mayhem The Weird Way...

Did Mayhem at the weekend as a sort of last minute substitute for a mixed team - ultimately there were, erm, three of us, when there should have been five. That and a load of brooding storm clouds and incoming isobars meant that I badged up the single-speeded Rockyvento as a Maverick, slapped a Morvelo sticker on the fork and an Alpkit one on the chainstay and slapped a Ragley Ti one on the seat-tube for max confusion and packed a selection of mud tyres.

It was kind of odd being non competitive from the start - normally it takes me a couple of laps - but  had a really good weekend. For starters it never really rained properly. I saw loads of nice people I've not seen for far too long and met some new ones too. The Horror Cat got an outing with glowing red eyes and all. And surprisingly my singlespeed legs worked despite advanced mono-cog rustiness.

Ended up doing two double-lap stints then a triple on Sunday morning. I could have done a quadruple, but it felt like enough and I wanted to be able to get back into 24/12 training mode this week. So, seven laps at a briskish pace for me, lots of climbing, 70-odd miles of singlespeeding, sore hands from that final descent taken flat out every lap cos it was smoother that way, or maybe it was just over faster...

Lots of people thought the singlespeed thing was mad, but actually it worked pretty well there - lots of climbing, but most of it at an eminently singlespeedy gradient and the lack of weight, Rocky's around 22.5lb with no particular effort to keep things light and the lack of complexity help. There's a certain smug satisfaction from listening to folk desperately screwing up gear changes at the bottom of every climb while you just creak serenely on your way.

The Horror Cat did the steering, I turned the pedals, pulled on the brakes occasionally and came along for the ride.

Overall it was kind of reassuring that I could do that with very little singlespeed background this year and still feel pretty strong. Next stop, 24-hour solo at 24/12 but with gears.

Somewhere at the back of my head though, is an insidious little voice that keeps whispering about maybe soloing Mayhem next year on the singlespeed...

Floaty, fluffy, rest-day mode now.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Summer - For One Day Only...

Summer was yesterday. Dry, hot, fast - seemed a shame to waste it, so I didn't. Great day.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Here and there.

My mate Mike stayed over on Tuesday night. He bought curry and covered the front room in lightweight kit before spending hours wrestling with a GPS / lap-top nexus and finally getting up at 5.30 am and dragging a bloody great bike box to Glossop station en route for Manchester Airport.

He's off to ride the Divide, which is ace. And he's kind of scared and excited and wearing ridiculous old clothes to throw away in Banff and watching him filtering ride kit and backpacking kit and kit kit reminded me of packing for a big mountain climbing trip.

And I have to admit I was a little envious. But at the same time, very, very glad I wasn't off to ride endless American hardpack for days on end.

I like stopping and looking at places. The best thing about extended traveling is being able to stop and take in the good bits at will, not rush past them and through them and over them. And I can see why people like the feeling of movement, of passing through, of motion. But sometimes stopping works too.

And then later, when Mike was somewhere over the Atlantic, I snuck out for a ride with my mid-week riding bud, a twice-postponed mission in search of local tech and we found it. Awesomely lovely rocky downhill singletrack with enough flow to keep it fluid and enough rock to make it consistently interesting.

Bloody ace and ten minutes from my front door.

Sigh. Best thing I've ridden for ages and good company too. And with added cake.

Sometimes the best things are nearer than you think.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Secret Squirrel...

Rode two new and potentially brilliant trails the other night, one I've been eyeing for ages, but never actually made the effort to try - obvious line, one slightly sick bit, mostly good fun with added washboard on the latter stages, thank ewe sheep.

And the other one that I had not the faintest idea existed. A storming mix of rhodi-lined ridge-contouring scenic smile territory - 40% attention on the trail and the rest on the views - diving into distinctly un-Peaky, woodsy singletrack, mulch and root and the odd rocky step to keep you thinking and, whoa, nice.

Just brilliant. And amusingly just 20 minutes easy ride from my front door.

You've got to love the way local trails can still surprise you. It's all lovely and familiar and mellow, then bam, right out of the blue. A bit like discovering your long-term partner has a secret sideline as a trampolening fire-eater or the local Indian has a 'secret menu' with loads of interesting new stuff you've never tried before. Not sure that ever happens though...

Don't get me wrong. I like riding new trails in new areas as much as anyone, but there's something properly lovely about rummaging through your local area and coming up trumps.

So where is it? Ah, that'd be telling.