Thursday, 21 March 2013

You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It...

... this has worried me for years. Why on earth would you want to have cake and not eat it?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Funny thing the brain. On the one hand I know rationally that my Ragley Ti frame is simply a very expensive collection of carefully-selected metal pipes welded together in a very specific pattern, that it has no feelings, soul or other human qualities.

And on the other, cracking it made me miserable. Like proper down. Not a financial thing. Not a cataclysmic emotional disaster. No blood or broken bone. No suffering. Just a small stress-induced fracture of the downtube which could have ended badly with a detached front end and a trail-surfing session on my face.

Which it didn't, so I should be glad. And so should the trail.

But despite all that - and despite knowing that with a lifetime Lynskey warranty it should be fixed over in Chattanooga - I was proper down for a couple of days for no other reason than a small crack in a metal tube.

Which is rationally just silly. Nobody died. No-one suffered harm. Even the trail wasn't hurt.

But that's being human for you.

I guess ultimately it's about that frame riding extraordinarily well and having been an integral part of some extraordinarily good days - in the Atlas mountains, in the Pyrenees, in the Peak, the Lakes and more - and about the emotion you project onto and into it. And that oddly, it was shining beacon of metallic hope on days when my belief in humanity was somewhere below rock bottom.

Some of it as well, was a sort of irrational disbelief that it had happened to me coupled with a sort of vague, generalised resentment at the internet bores who endlessly trot out the 'bike for life' cliché with a liberal garnish of Schadenfreude and self-contratulatory glee that they've never been taken in by a promise which only actually exists in their own heads. No-one, surely, believes that a regularly ridden bike will last forever, do they?

But mostly I'm amused that despite knowing that riding is about riding, not about what you ride, I still can't quite get past that quiet indignation. And the funny thing is that despite Lynskey coming through - as they have a reputation for doing - and promising to fix the frame so it's as good as new, the quiet indignation is still lurking just out of shot.

Smile. Acknowledge. Move on. Because in a few months time, Rags'll be back. And after all, nobody (human) died.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Washing the Ragley down after a meandering three hours in the sunshine and found this...

It's on the underside of the top-tube on both sides and underneath along the join with the head-tube. First thoughts: glad the front end didn't rip off on a descent really. Surfing trails on your face is never much fun.

Some twonk will be along in a moment to gloat about the whole 'frame for life' thing, but actually I've cracked a ti frame before, I bought this one simply because it's an insanely good blend of lightness, suppleness and geometry, not because I thought it would live for ever like a titanium vampire. But hey, if it feeds your insatiable appetite for Schadenfreude, go ahead. Don't let me stop you.

Stripped the whole bike down to the frame in 30-odd minutes and today it's off to meet its makers via the Bicycle Doctor, appropriately enough. I'm gutted. But it's been hammered senseless everywhere from home ground in the Peak to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco via the Pyrenees and even a short stint at 24/12.

And the disappointment's tempered a little by Lynskey's lifetime warranty and, having dealt with them before over minor stuff, I know that their customer service is ace in a genuinely helpful way, so I'm optimistic that it'll get fixed. Surgery tourism for bikes - Made in Tennessee, Built To Go Fast...

And hello Bop...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

N + None...

... where N is the number of bikes I currently own.

Took the 18 Bikes demo Transition Bandit out for a five-hour test ride in amusingly bleak conditions yesterday. And I was, well, underwhelmed really. I didn't particularly like the tall Marzocchi fork on the demo bike and I didn't really trust the tyres - maybe more because I didn't know them than anything else and the bike fitted nicely, handled well and was, erm, 'capable' on the downhills, but it wasn't £1400 worth of my money 'good'.

Maybe I was expecting too much - the Bandit is, after all, the current 'Jesus bike'. Or maybe I'm not a good enough rider to appreciate its abilities fully. Or maybe it just doesn't suit my style. Or perhaps I've gradually become a hardtail rider thanks to how shockingly good my Ragley is. Probably just a mix of all of those. Oh, and a dislike of pedal strikes on rocky stuff.

I felt almost guilty at telling the guys at 18 all this. They're nice people and very considerately suggested lots of alternative options I might try, but I got the impression that normally people ride the demo then reach into their wallets, pull out a credit card and do the deal.

So that's okay then. I can just put some non-studded tyres back on Rags, stop worrying that I'm missing out on something brilliant, and just ride the wheels off the bloody thing. N + None. Where None is more time spent riding than buying and building.

Friday, 8 March 2013

When A Man Is Tired Of Bike...

As Dr Johnson once said, if one of your bikes never gets ridden, you should probably think about why you own it in the first place. Somewhere in the depths of the bike cave lurks my Pace RC405 providing a handy adventure playground for spiders and doing, well, not very much really.

The Pace in happier times with added Spanish mountains.
It's a nice bike. It used, in fact, to be my favourite ride. It has very capable Pushed Pikes, a Reverb no less, a choice of shocks - RP23 with Push and volume adjuster or original DT Swiss - proper good wheels, grippy tyres and a 2˚ slack-set.

And I never ride it. Instead I career around on the Ragley spitting stones outta the rear wheel and climbing and descending like a fiery-eyed twat or ride the road bike or drag the Soma out for a bit of something in between. Even the daft 69er mutant gets more miles.

Not sure why. Some of it is the weight, it's up around 32lb, but to be brutal, it doesn't descend like a 32lb bike should and the extra weight irks me on the ups. Also, after riding Rags it strikes pedals on rocks like a desperate survivalist trying to light a fire. Uncomfortable when most of your local trails are made of boulders and rubble.

But mostly, I guess, it seems woefully short of 'thing' - 'thing' being the hard-to-define spark of bright-eyed madness that makes you just want to hammer a bike. It's what the Ragley oozes from every titanium pore and, oddly, my road bike too. But the Pace, if it ever had it, doesn't have it any more.

Or maybe it's just that I no longer 'get' full suspension. I don't mind being slightly slower on a hardtail as long as it's more fun and more of a challenge and, to be honest, Rags ain't that much slower anyway.

So, in a selfless bid to work it all out, tomorrow I'm taking 18 Bikes demo Bandit out for a few hours around Hope. The plan isn't necessarily to buy a Bandit, though it might end up that way, more to work out if I've fallen out of love with full suspension generally or just the Pace in particular.

Watch this space I guess...