All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Gorrick 100 is approaching

this weekend and training this week should include a couple of horribly wet and muddy MTB rides, a criterium Wednesday night if the weather is kind, a CX smash Thursday and hopefully another MTB Friday evening.  I don't do tapering for the short races as I find my legs get stiff and heavy, I will back the intensity back a bit though.  Each to their own.

Lets see what work dictates as now my colds have gone.

Oh, there seems to be this orangey yellow sphere in the sky as well.


Weldtite TF2 a full report

Well as part of the official test team I have been given the TF2 All weather lubricant to test and I have been doing exactly that.  For a little over a month I have used it in dry and slightly dusty conditions to wet sodden conditions with trails running like streams.  It has been used on my SS MTB's, my CX and my roadie, and it is safe to say I really like it.  I also ensured I considered everything from application to performance.

One of the many sprockets the TF2 has been protecting.

There are a couple of other brands I have used and even compared directly with the TF2 as I still have some laying around and these comparisons were the real eye opener.

The TF2 is easy to apply, the consistency of it allows you to get it on the chain easily, work it in to the links and wipe off what little excess there is.  With some other lubes I find myself cleaning the rim, chain stay and wiping the excess off many times.   The long application lid makes it easy to get into jockey wheels and other places without covering everything in lube.

Some of the trails I have ridden on in the last month have quite a bit of grit on them and after a few k's riding (particularly the SS) you get that familiar grinding sound.  With the TF2 this seem to take a lot longer to occur. i.e. the grit isn't sticking to a gloopy lube on your chain.  After my first ride with TF2 in the wet I was surprised by this and checked that my chain was indeed lubricated properly and it was, it just didn't attract as much rubbish.

In the dry and the wet, TF2 just works and I have to admitted to being a little surprised about the difference when I did a back to back test on the same loop on the same bike in the same conditions.  First using TF2 on a sodden trail ride I returned and the chain had not collected as much mud and grit as it would on the next ride using another leading brand.  I had ensured I cleaned the and lube the chain appropriately between each ride to give a balanced test.  The other leading brand lube, collected more rubbish than TF2, not huge amounts, but it was noticeable even without inspecting the chain.  This of course has the adverse affect that we use lubricants for, so we really want to reduce this as much as we can, TF2 does and keeps the chain lubed.

In a test with another brand, which I was using when I received the TF2.  The other brand works as well once applied and even helps clean things up a bit, it does go everywhere due to its viscosity and requires a few passes with a dry cloth to clean off excess.  TF2 did not and this also meant less TF2 was used.

So TF2 is easy to apply, not messy and doesn't leave excess on the chain, it keeps the chain lubricated in a variety of riding conditions and is not a magnet for crude and grit.

I should ideally find something in this area as well, but I have to say I can't. I guess some lubricants work others don't and some work better than most.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Keeping the training up, well at lest trying.

With the UK weather turning to pretty much soaking wet every day for the last 2-3 weeks and first a head cold and now a chest cold. It has been hard to keep motivated.

Enter, the crossing training. In particular climbing.  Yesterday lunch time I did a bunch of core strength work, with a plan to get out on the bike in the evening.  However, with the coughing increasing and Dr Nik instructing me to not ride due to the weather and go climbing instead, I followed my orders.

I headed to the wall, met Rich and Russ and bsaically smashed myself to bits.  The lunch time session had destroyed my arms and core already, the wall session finished me off.  Climbing hard routes to the point I could not hold on anymore, let alone pull on the holds.

Suffice to say I slept well last night and seem to have broken the lack of motivation curse.  Although wrenching the bars on a climb on the single with the way my arms feel is probably out.  So a wet lunch time road ride followed by a wet evening CX ride should see me right.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Weldtite TF2

I am still in the process of testing the TF2 lube from Weldtite and will write a full review shortly.  But in a recent back to back test with another leading product on the same trails in the same conditions on the same bike setup one thing was assured.

The TF2 does not collect anywhere near as much trail grit and grim as the other product.  It is such a stark difference I was surprised.

TF2 All Weather just works.  Full report coming soon.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Alpkit Bits

Last week I got two parcels from Alpkit. They are providing the Denali team with some good support with some stuff sacs, utensils, Ti pot and mug, a cheeky down, padded cell sacs and the first of the tents, the Heksa.

Where to start, well first. Thank you again Col and Alpkit.  The kit looks premium and looks ever bit up to the job it is designed for as my Thud, Hunka, my Nik's Pipedream and other stuff sacs have been.

Where to start? Well the Heksa is just a brilliant tent, big sturdy and very quick to set up, 10-15 minutes for the first go. The vestibules are huge and can take loads of kit and bags upon bags of food, needed for a 24hr MTB race. Inside the tent there is so much room, Alpkit say 4, that is in luxury.  I would say 6 would be comfy and with all those pockets and hang loops that carefully spread the load and those fore mention vestibules your gear will be safe and sound too.

One of the large vestibules.
The Heksa looming large behind the pit at 24Hrs of Exposure.

The first night I had in it, the rain was heavy and the windy picked right up and the tent stood as if it was still, a good start as this may end up on Denali as our base camp tent.

To the other bits. We as a team have also ordered some great bits and pieces from Alpkit at a very good discount and so far I have managed to start testing the following bits out.

Alpkit goodies.

The Padded Cell 1, 2, 3 and 4.  These are ideal for keeping items such as phones, eReaders, even your water bottle warm and in the case of the electronics dry.  The padded construction also gives extra impact protection and has already been tested with my camera and eReader.  Both are still working fine.  The bags are light as well so no additional weight issues for the weight weenies. Shown above.

Apollo II stuff sacs, what can I say, light and tough and do a good job of organizing bits in your holdall or rucksac. They come in a range of colours and sizes (see photo above) to help the organizing.

Airlok, I haven't tested these yet, but I soon will and will post an update.

MytiPot and MytiMug. Very light and tough, and retain the heat really well for such thin Ti.  The size of the mug is just great and allows you to pour loads of tea and coffee down your throat without it getting cold.  I found with the lid on I could leave my tea sat for about 5 minutes in 4C before I noticed any real temperature difference a good surprise.  But lets be fair we are more interested in the weight, strength and volume.  They both deliver here and I look forward to nestling these inside the bigger exped pot and keeping the weight down on Denali.

MytiPot, Mug and Tirons

Tirons, these are brilliant little utensils and will still be going strong when I retire from climbing and biking I suspect.  Light, tough and quite nice to handle. Pretty cool to look at as well.


I also got a lovely down and it has been keeping me snug on the unexpected cold nights recently and I love the fact that the hood overlaps well but can be removed.  It has good sized pockets and whilst it won't head to Denali. It will head to loads of races with me and to ice climbing venues in Europe, it packs down well and provides loads of warmth for its weight.

I know the above, does actually make me sound like a weight weenie, but I want to save weight and not quality for the trip to Denali so as to make sure things are not even tougher.  Plus with a few future plans both bike, ski and climbing oriented, lightweight quality kit is needed and so far all the above is proving to fit that bill.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Good from the bad.

Well as most would know I headed to the 24Hrs of Exposure this weekend with my awesome pit crew Nik.  We arrived with plenty of time, set up the pit, (below), and I headed off with Chris Noble for a loop of the course.

 The pit.

After completing a loop, Nik and I finished sorting a few things, I went to registration and then had a bit of physio.  This was meant to be just a leg rub, but Sabreen found a couple of problems, including my pelvis being slightly misaligned, WTF?  Anyway with this fixed and food eaten we climbed into the massive Alpkit Heksa and settled down for the night.

 Inside the awesome Alpkit Heksa.

The rain pelted the canvass and wind crashed into the tent as finally I drifted off, thinking that the course will be hell in the morning.  In the morning I was keen, did my usual amount of faff and was ready to race.  A point I wasn't sure I would be at 6 weeks ago as I took a very long time to get off the ground after a sizable crash, I had done quite a bit of damage and really thought I'd not be riding in 6 weeks, let alone racing.

Well here I was, charged, ready to go, a great pit crew and a back up pit crew in Phil M and two awesome bikes (below) to see me through.  Things were going to be peachy and I was going to have a great race.

 Toad and Tonka ready to roll.

Unfortunately things didn't go as planned, once racing started.  A good and calm start, pacing with a familiar face Graham "Irish" McConaghy and the first few laps would see us checking on each other as we had a few mechanical problems.  However, as Grahams got sorted, mine just changed and had me stopping several times each lap to resolve and changing bikes each lap.  This was getting tiresome when I managed to get two flats on the same lap. With some help at the course aid station, Phil and Rory and some much need motivation I was on my way, but due to a long walk back to the aid station I had lost buckets of time.

But now despite the flats the bikes were running smoothly, thanks to Nik and Phil.  I finished the lap and headed out again.  But this time the engine started failing, feeling dizzy I reached for a gel in my jersey, as I did I veered to one side, I corrected and tried again, the same outcome.  I've been here before and it is not a good place. I stopped fired a gel in and got going again, soon I was stopped again and fired another gel in.

Things slowed down a bit from here, I managed to get more than 2/3rds of the lap done, before I forced myself to have my last gel.  As I made my way back to the pit area feeling dizzier with each minute, I had a plan to try to keep going.

I got back and told Nik what was going on, I drunk water and electrolytes, ate fruit, chicken, pasta and some sweets over the period of about 30 minutes, but there was no change.  Nik was a star as usual being totally supportive and offering advice. Watching the clock tick by and knowing that if I waited much longer I would not be able to overhaul the other single speed riders I had to think hard.

How bad was I feeling? Racing when dizzy in the dark (as it was now) was just plain dangerous, waiting around forever to get better just to finish, is no longer my goal at these events. I can finish them and I can finish them well.  If I pushed on after resting longer, would this just do more damage to my body?  Would I go through the same thing and start feeling the same, but not have the clarity to ease up and make the right decisions as I'd certainly be more tired?

I decided that due to my prep with the injury in the 6 weeks before being poor and that I had so many mechanicals that I should let this one go.  I difficult and disappointing decision and I always feel as if I have let Nik, cycleworks and all the others that have offered support and encouragement along the path.

Clarity is a fine thing.  Once back home and with some time to think, I know I made the right choice.  Another crash could have injured me again and possibly worse than before.  So I look at things to take the good from the bad.

All in all, some things had gone really well, Nik had become an awesome mechanic (thanks babe), I personally had not let the rubbish prep get me down or cause me to doubt myself, even if deep inside I knew I was up against it.  From the start I rode through the mechanical issues and kept calm and my focus, working with Nik as a brilliant team we got me to a point that if the engine hadn't failed completely that I would have been keen for the hunt and calm enough to execute it.  Something that is important for the long game.

Time to recover a bit and then start all over again.  The Gorrick 100 is next and is short and fast in comparison, there is a rumor I might even use some gears for this.

Thanks to Nik, Phil and Rory, they all get a hug too. Nik gets a bigger one.

Thanks Alpkit (Col) for the tent, the lovely warm down that got worn lots.

Thanks Weldtite for the TF2, it certainly is ace.

Thanks Cycleworks and Team Cycleworks for the support and encouragement.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

First impressions TF2...

Saturday I got my first product to test from Weldtite TF2 All Weather lube.

I have only had a brief chance to test it since receiving and the first impressions are good. Easy to apply, not to messy and in a dusty race it didn't collect to much dust from the trail, hence no grinding of grit between chain and chain rings and sprocket.

When applying it, it stayed on the chain as it was rotated and didn't just fly off or drip straight off and it worked nicely into the links and there was very little excess to wipe off.

It will get a proper test this weekend as I head for the 24hrs of Exposure and what appears to be some cold and maybe a little wet to start with weather.

More to follow.

Sunny Gorrick

On Sunday I headed to the Gorrick Spring Series Rnd 4.  It was a sunny but cool morning and as I was on my new steed it was worth doing a practice lap.  By the time I finished it had warmed up a bit and I was well impressed with the course.

Soon Brian and Clive arrived and I had a bit of a chat pre-race to them, then got lined up. Off we went and the pace was pretty quick and my legs still felt a bit heavy from a ride the day before.  Anyway, I rode on, passed a few, got passed by a few.  I made all the climbs on the single each lap bar the really loose and soft one on the last lap, run about 10m's as my now stretched chain wanted to hop off the chain ring, which under torsion is never good.

As this race was quite quick and the course technical course technical I really had no idea where I was when I crossed the line until moments later, they announced I had finished 10th.  Not a bad showing really even in a small field and certainly a nice back test and warm up for Easter weekend and the 24Hrs of Exposure the first of the big ones.

Congrats to Em and the guys for good finishes all round and to Chris and Brian, awesome stuff for toughing out the mechanical and giving it a stiff go with skiers legs.

Good-luck to you all on the 22nd at the last Rnd.

Everyone meet Toad, his fast and very green.

Happy riding.