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.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alpkit Bike Packing Kit Test

The other week I had a few days off to go and help my sponsor Weldtite with some filming (more on that later), so I had also arranged to meet Kenny (Alpkit) on the weekend to have a look and play with some bike packing kit and hopefully ride some of the Pennine Bridleway.

After the working with Weldtite for the two days, this was great fun and was great to meet everyone, such a good honest Brit company getting on with it, I headed for Barnoldswick to meet Kenny.  After meeting Kenny we decided to head up to Settle instead and just made last orders at the locals local.

After bedding down in the vans for the night in the centre of Settle, we headed over to Gisburn Forest Trail Centre, it had been extremely wet over the last few nights and was raining has we headed over.  The theory being that we would chew up less ground and it would be a good place to test the Alpkit bike packing kit on my bike to see what I would need.

After arriving and loading poor old Toad up see below we headed off on the Blue loop for starters.

Taken after the days riding.

My goal for the day was to workout what would suit my riding style and the SIR9 (Toad's) geometry best.  The combination of the Alpkit frame bag, Koala (seat bag), bar bag (prototype), stem holster and my reliable Camelbak, carry the kit I might need for a few days of travel, in the wet, cold and dry. (Picture above)

We set off and had did a circuit on the blue and then one on the red.  Both trails gave suitable climbing and varying terrain to test the kit and bike out with it all packed on.  More than a bit of standing water, mud and a bit of rain tested the Alpkit bike packing bags.

Firstly, packing the bags carefully ensured good weight distribution which mean the bike handled just like it always did, just a bit heavier.  Even found myself getting off the ground and flicking it through the corners.  This also meant the forks weren't overloaded and therefore still reacted as they should.

Now to the bags, once all secured to the bike (frame bag sitting snug in the centre) and loaded with squishy, light, but warm clothing, food and maps, sleeping bag (Koala seat bag), tarp and few other bits (prototype bar), phone, gels and bars in the (stem holster), Camelbak filled with tent, MyTi pot, mug and tools.  Like I said, enough stuff to last a few days self sufficient.

Once in the bags, everything was easy to access and nothing was swinging around on the bike and they proved to be pretty waterproof as I splashed through the deep puddles and mud.  The sand and grit didn't really bother the zips and the bags wash off easily.

All-in-all, I found these bags great and will be getting my frame bag ordered with a few other types of bags soon.  One thing worth doing is putting some protective frame tape on the bike wear the straps wrap around it just to protect it from abrasions caused from the grit getting between the straps and frame.  There are other great things as well, you can choose the configuration of your frame bag, how many compartments (within reason) and zip locations.  All very handy to get a more bespoke and useful bag.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Dry Wax vs TF2 Plus+ Dry

A little while back Weldtite sent me over some Dry Wax and TF2 Plus+ Dry to test.  With the fine and warm weather we were having at that time as we were actually having a summer, the products never got fully tested in extreme conditions.

But eventually the weather let me test in the wet as well.

Dry Wax and TF2 Plus+ Dry

First thing that is blatantly obvious is they are two very different products.  One being a wax based lubricant and the other is Teflon based (more your usual lube). So what would be the different uses? Best conditions of use?

So first I tested using the Dry Wax on both road and MTBikes, after giving the drive train a good clean I applied the wax and set to using the bikes. The wax worked amazingly well on the road bike lasting extremely well.  The wax gives the drive chain a good protective layer which copes well with dry and wet road conditions.  However, I found the wax does wear off the quickly when used on the MTBike due to the grit, dust and mud.

The Teflon based dry lube is excellent at shedding water from those sudden and unexpected showers when out on the road or MTBike, this reduces the chances of grit and dust sticking to the drive train.  This made it a better choice for the MTBike, whilst I used the wax road bike right up until the weather finally turned wet.

I found both products great, but have a different uses. I also found using them in combination applying the wax first and then Teflon as the outer coat worked very well to increase the protection given to the drive train even in the current very wet and muddy conditions.

The only real con with the wax is the drive train needs to be extremely clean before applying it, otherwise it doesn't adhere to the chain well.

Both products are great and will compliment your toolbox well.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Italy - Arco (Photo Report) Part 2

After getting snowed out of the Dolomites we headed to a Sport and multi-pitch climbers paradise and around nice spot. Arco, situated at the top of Lake Garda, this little village has its own Mediterranean climate and it was set to sunny and warm when we were there.

We arrived late after dark after driving from Cortina and got booked into a campsite.  We had simple plan now, climb what took our fancy.  The goals int he Dolomites had technically be completed, just not to the level we wanted, but we were happy.  Now in Arco a climber play ground, that is what we did, play.

Below are some pics from Arco and the great walls and Crags around the village.

We climbed the following routes:
  • Cinque Stagioni - a nice 3 star route, with a cheeky A0 pitch, be warned freeing it will take some doing, we tried. :)
  • Aspettando Martino - a fantastic 4 star route and worth every star. 
  • and played on some smaller crags, getting pretty much shutdown on the first two days
We have now come up with a short wish list for Arco too.  We also managed to eat lots, sit in the sun quite a bit and drink some great coffee.

 Castle of Arco

 This guy was taking the piss as we were getting shut down

 He was just an ass  :)

Castle, Arco below and Lake Garda in the distance.

 There's a Dan in there.

 South (near) and East Face of Monte Colodri

 One of the best pitches I have every lead.


Italy - Dolomites (Part 1)

Back in September Dan and I headed to the Dolomites.  The plan was to do some alpine classic rocks, enjoy the mountains, look for new lines, maybe attempt one or two and always come back in one bit.

After arriving late at night we grabbed a hire car and headed for Cortina.  We did have to have a sleep for a few hours on a 2000+ pass before finishing the drive to Cortina.

In Cortina we had some breakfast, had a look around, bought food and water and checked weather reports and then headed for the Sorapiss region of the Marmarole Dolomites.  With heavy packs we caught a cheer lift a little way up the mountain had some lunch at the rifugio at the base of these impressive peaks.

After lunch we started the long and quite walk into the mountains, which trended left through the highest treeline and through the obvious weakness in the peaks shown above, after a short stop at the San Marco Rifugio.  The walk was made even more epic by the weight of our packs, with food, water, camping gear and trad and alpine rock gear.  Soon we could see Torre dei Sabbioni and in a little while we would be camped underneath the prominent peak, pictured below with Dan.

There is one thing we were learning quickly, the Dolomites are beautiful, the next thing we would learn was that there was very little (no water) anywhere near us, a late evening descent and ascent taking around 1 and 1/2 hours saw me return with enough water to get us through the night and the next day.

The next day, Dan I headed out with a plan to have a look around, not climb.  But plans soon changed, and with limited gear, we first decided upon an ledge route we assessed lead to the Normal route of Torre dei Sabbioni. This was thoroughly enjoyable, easy and very exposed and lead to the saddle of the Normal route.  So of course we climbed this two, enjoying the delights of this classic with no-one else on the mountain we enjoyed the view, the climbing and the peace.

 The famous ledge pitch, had me giggling like 5 year old.

Cheeky summit pic and we headed off.

We also enjoyed a night descent to the camp and with one head torch (I left mine in the tent), but a very bright moon we descended rapidly and safely.

I can highly recommend the Normal route as a good day out.

Day 3 and we had to head down and get more water.  On the way down we looked at a good few potential new lines and decided on a couple that we had seen on the first day on the way in.  This would be this afternoons entertainment.

So with water back at the camp and climbing packs filled we head over to have a look at the first of the new routes.  I started up the first pitch and this was going quite well, at one point (the crux) I did have to resort to placing a peg to protect the moves and push on.  The climbing through this section was very enjoyable.  After around 50ms I arrived a flake belay and Dan started up and soon arrived.

Now it was Dans turn to head into the unknown, I watch Dan as he moved through some slightly contorted first few moves in the first 10 metres and then he disappeared from view.  After a little while, thing slowed down and more and more small rocks came funnelling down the gully.  This was obviously a tad loose.

Soon the roper went tight and I followed Dans lead, first through some interesting and fun moves and then over a great deal of loose ground, eventually arriving just below Dan on the belay, before making the final moves through a chossy chute. Interesting pitch.

I finished the last pitch which was uneventful and straight forward after starting on a nice slab.  Dan soon joined me and we headed down to the bags.  We had been watching the weather and it was clearly changing, so we sacked off the next route, knowing was longer and steeper, possibly just as loose???

As we arrived back at the camp as light rain started to fall.  We stashed the climbing pack with all the hardware in them under a boulder as Nik had replied to a text to say there was a storm coming, so we wanted the metalwork out of the tent.  We got in the tent brewed up and listened as the rain got heavier.

After a while the drum of the rain and lap of the wind on the tent sent us to sleep, until.  Suddenly we were awake again, the loudest clap of thunder I had every heard, woke us fully and without warning.  There were more rumbles around the valley and lighting up high.  Somehow we feel asleep again, but soon I was woken again this time by a lighting strike.  It was so close and bright that the flash woke me up. Dan stirred to, but still we fell asleep again, until an eery silence woke us up.  We darted out the tent to pee and it was quite warm outside.

We returned to the "safety" of the tent again falling asleep again.  I am not sure when, but I woke up again. Down the wind had returned, but it bought a new friend with it.  The tent sounded like we had a TV only playing static and it was loud, it was a familiar sound, I peaked out the tent as Dan two woke up to see snow being blown into the valley. "Hmm, not good" I said as Dan read the temp inside the tent, about 2 degrees, chilly out then.

We snuggled down into our sleeping bags and awoke some hours later to this.

Whilst our water problem was solved with 2-3 inches of snow, we now had a climbing problem, that wouldn't improve for a few days (according to reports it actually worsened.  So despite being in such a beautiful scene, we had no choice but to choose another place to go and climbing for the rest of the week. A shame really as we had had two great days climbing already.

Reluctantly after choosing to head to Arco for some bolt clipping and multi-pitch routes in what would be amazing sunny conditions, we packed and started the long walk out to the now inappropriately named Fiat Punto.

Dan on the walk out.

Eventually back at the car, we would head to Arco, via Cortina and a large piece of steak and more quality Italian coffee.

We took a lot away from those few days in the Sorapiss region, firstly it is just so beautiful up there, there are few people, the rock is more stable than it appears and we have a few more impressive lines to go and look at, Cortina is damn expensive and when we return, water logistics wont surprise us again.

Yes, we are going back!

I will follow this with a brief Arco photo report.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cyclo Modular Workstation

A little while ago I was lucky enough to get one of the Cyclo Modular Workstations from Weldtite.  If I am honest the thing that lured me to this work stand was the Clamp Head itself, but with such a good deal it was worth getting the hole stand.  The stand is pictured below holding one of my rides.

 Modular Workstation

The first thing you notice is just how damn easy it is to use the Clamp, it is easily closed, released and rotated with the simple flick lock levers. In fact closing the clamp couldn't be easier as self adjust as you close it shut on any frame or seat post size and locks in place. To release simply lift the close lever and push the lock lever open. Couldn't be simpler and no boring winding of a handle.  I certainly can't fault the Clamp, top marks.

Clamp Head

What's in a stand?  My other stand is quite big a bit heavy, but very very stable.  It is still a mobile stand, though so I am comparing apples with apples. The Cyclo stand like the Clamp Head is easy to use and adjust and the leg looking mechanism is great, so simple to use and reliable.

But there are two quibbles.  On a firm and flat surface the stand is very stable, but you do need to make sure the bike is perfect central if it is a 29er or DH rig, removing a wheel once or twice I have had to make an unexpected catch.  But I have got that sussed by ensuring the bigger bikes are more central.  However, as soon as the ground is a bit uneven the 3 point contact design of the feet seem to cause it to be a little too unstable, so make sure you have a work mat underneath it at any races in a field.

The only other thing I notice that was once again only a quibble, nothing major. Was that at full height the stand does tend to have a bit of a lean, meaning that large pedals get a little fouled on the stand itself.  If you drop the stand a little this straightens out, but for me means I would be working a little bent over.  Fortunately I don't run large pedals and you can see in the first picture there is plenty of clearance for XC style clip-less pedals.

Overall, this is a very good work stand and has an excellent Clamp Head and there are range of different mounts for the Clamp Head that really make it versatile.  It has taken over as my workshop stand and serves me very well indeed.  I have kept using the heavier one of have at races as it is just that little more stable although the clamp on it is not as good as this one, but then again it doesn't get used a lot at races.

Nice work team, very happy with this and it is now a permanent fixture next to the workbench.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


On the 13th September Dan and I are off to the Dolomites for some alpine rock.  The first goal is of course to stay safe, then we are looking to complete a few classics and see what new lines are available.  The area of the Dolomites is the Marmarole.  The region has an old history with Italian alpine climbing, however it is not frequented often, has a limited number established routes and is still a little bit of a wilderness.  Which are all reasons why we chose to visit it, it is also quite beautiful.

Torre dei Sabbioni
(Photo Rights: Summit Post)

The plan is simply to go to the region and live in the mountains for a week and see how we get on.  We have a view of some new line options and some fun and challenging classics to choose from.  We have gathered a mass information from our friend Franca who visits the region often.  So now we are just keen to get on the plane on Friday 13th, lucky we are not superstitious. ;)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Bontrager Twentyfour12 2013.

On the 26th July, Dan and I packed the van and headed for Newham Park, Plymouth for the Bontrager Twentyfour12, Dan as my new pitch manager for the weekend and at points he would have his work cutout for him.

Leaving with plenty of time on the Friday the trip down would be an eventful one, first the van's clutch went near Andover and after arranging hire van and recovering the old girl to a local garage we were on our way again.  Only to be slowed down by broken down cars, police clearly arresting someone and a burning van. We eventually arrived way later than expected and after 9hrs of travel and sitting by the road side, not terribly relaxing of good for getting enough food and drink in.

Once arrived, we set up the pit and went and found some disappointing food, normally the food at the Bonty is great. Oh well.  Fed we relaxed a bit and then went to bed.

Saturday morning arrived and I was feeling a little ambivalent about things, but soon found my stride ate, registered and went for a half loop of the course, to test the Wolf Tooth chain ring without a clutch mech and see what the condition of the course was like.  Woolf Tooth chain = awesome, course = dry and rapid.

Dan and I finished setting up the pit and organising food and drink, whilst Chris and his dad Les did the same (it is always nice to pit next to friends, especially Chris and Les, they have a habit of keeping things real). Anyway soon enough it was time to head for the start line and wait for things to get going.

With no le mans start, some chatting and wishing friends well, the start came around and we were off.  My plan was simple survive the first 12hrs and then try to improve from there.  My form has been off for a while, but has been coming back, so this was another step in trying to find it again.  The start was fast as usual and soon everyone was strung out which made the going a bit easier.

After the first few laps I had the confidence that I would finish this one, but knew I would be out of the running for anything in the top 5 (but that wasn't the goal here). As things seemed to be going well ignoring Jason Miles absolutely flying an already lapping me after 3 hours, a mild disaster occurred.  The drive-side crank bolt sheared off and my crank came away from its axle.  I removed the chain and started to run/scoot the bike back to the start finish, with only once little mishap.  Where after a little wait my spare bike was available and I was off again.

As the hours and laps ticked by I started to have a little wobble, but a short stop at the pit and some extra food and I was on my way again.  Everything now working like clockwork bottles being exchanged without stopping, food going in.  Although another food based wobble did occur, but once again after some extra food at a pit I kept on rolling.

 Cottage Return bomb hole

By now it was dark and the lights were on, Jason had gone past at least 3 times and a coupe of others at least once.  But I was also no making up places, slowly, but surely. The course was a typically good Bonty course, so as things got dark and the race got lonely as the 12hr races finished and retired to bed, you still had plenty to keep you sharp.  Also, you pass other races or are passed, especially by the 12hr Torchbearers, 24 hrs Pairs and Teams, everyone has a chat and offers encouragement.

Despite all this, I was soon struggling, just to stay awake, body felt OK, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open.  At the end of the next lap a I had to have a nap. I wanted 15 and then maybe another 15.  Sat in a seat with my sleeping bag over me, Dan let me have I thin it was 8 and 9 minutes.  But it worked, I woke and was raring to go and got straight back into it.

 Nice fast corner on Cottage Return

Strange things happen in the early hours of the morning, one being the realisation you are going to make and thoughts turning to can I catch the guy in front of me. But for now I concentrated on maintaining my pace albeit slow compared to the top 5.

Soon the welcome glow of the red sky could be seen and the open sections of track revealed in daylight again.  Soon the 12hr races would be waking up and Chris who had finished 3rd and Les, soon joined Dan in keeping me going.  However, by now I was in the hunt, first to get in the top 10, then grab ninth and then somewhere in my last few laps, I grab 8th and opened a gap to the finish.

Finally I had re-found some form and my jubilation as I crossed the line resulted in poor Matt Carr getting a hug. Mainly because he was there and had been yelling at me and everyone else all night, he is a legend.

Matt getting a sweaty and dusty bear hug

Overall, I was pretty happy 8th sounds pretty good and I guess it is.  7 laps behind Jason Miles in 1st, well what can you say, Jason was in a class of his own and owned the race and massive congrats to him and everyone else that finished.

It was great to see Chris get up for 3rd Mens Solo 12hr, Dan T and Verity roll comfortably into the 12hr Mixed Pairs, Fourth4 defend their title, the USE boys and Pivot-BoomPods boys smash it up!

As usual, thanks go to Martin and the team for a great event and course, the spectators and other rides, for a great atmosphere and company in the dark moments.

Big thanks to Dan for standing in for Nik as pit bitch and doing a great job.
Les, for help Dan and me.
Chris, for groaning at me in the morning to keep going. ;)

Cycleworks, Weldtite, Alpkit and Wolf Tooth Components for your support.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wolf Tooth chain rings

My previous post introduced my newest cycling sponsor Wolf Tooth Components, well of course nothing comes for free.  So here is a review on their 32t 104 BCD chain ring.  A one word review would be "AWESOME!" and yes I would be that enthusiastic, trust me in this.

As many of you know I mainly run my MTBikes as single speed, but there are occasions when I would like to use gears.  My solution to this for a few years has been 1x9(10) and a chain device.  This has its drawbacks, if the chain does come off its an ar*e ache to sort, if it is muddy the chain device jams and they generally are a pain in the butt.

So what is the solution? Well a little while back the guys at WTC worked out how to reduce the chances of dropping a chain on a 1x XX configuration by having a narrow wide tooth configuration on their chain rings, with a slightly higher profile then some others out there.  Below the is the 32t chain ring fitted to one of my bikes prepared for the Bontrager Twentyfour12 (race report to follow).

It is recommended to fit the chain ring with the appropriate speed chain (10 speed in this case) and a clutch rear mech (Shimano SLX SGS - not shown). The clutch mech helps reduce chain slap and hence further reduces the chance of chain drop.  Ensure the chain is measured and broken to the right length (say 3-4 links overlap when wrapped around the chain ring and the largest rear sprocket - yes I read the manual).

Once fitted something was apparent pulling the chain down and forward of the chain ring you could feel the wider teeth holding on and the narrow ones letting go of the chain. Interesting!

So how does it actually perform.  Did you read the bit were I said AWESOME!, I wasn't joking.  My first test ride on the local trails and I was so impressed.  However, the Bontrager Twentyfour12 would provide a real test.  A big test would be how would this work on my 1x9 configuration with no clutch mech?

Fast forward to the morning of the 2412 and a quick test ride on the 1x9 config with no clutch mech and no chain device et voila the chain stayed in place. Super! Now I was amazed.  I could also answer the question, how does it work without a clutch mech that I had been asked the Friday evening and Saturday morning by other racers and their pit crews.  It work really well.

A full 24hr race with me making some poor line choices and bad gear changes would be the ultimate test.  After 24hrs of racing on both configurations I can safely say this.  I didn't drop a chain once, it didn't even come close.  Even at the point when I broke my drive side crank arm off my bike, the chain stayed wrapped neatly around the chain ring.  This certainly helped a more graceful stop and sensible dismount.  Clutch mech or not, these chain rings work. :)

I have to say I am so impressed and really happy to be able to promote WTC.  I had researched their product quite a bit, before approaching them and I now can safely say I will replace all worn 1x chain rings I own as I need to with these. 

Your is pedaling in circles for a bit,

New Cycling sponsor Wolf Tooth Components

I would like to introduce my newest cycling sponsor Wolf Tooth Components  Minneapolis, Minnesota based cyclist and propeller heads behind the no drop chain rings.

The components are design and manufactured in Minneapolis and are great quality and very much do what they say on the tin.  Look out for my review.

I will be taking the chain rings to hell and back, and after my first experience I will get to make this trip quite a few times.

Thanks Brendan, Dan and the team.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Army Cycling - Are You Tough Enough

Last Sunday in some nice warm conditions I raced the Army Cycling Union's - Are You Tough Enough event, in the 4 hours Single Speed category.  The race would end with some controversy.  But I am over that and looking forward.

As I said the day was warm and this suited me. As I lined up I knew Al would be the man to try and beat or at least try to stay close to.  But with these events there is always one or that suddenly pop up out of nowhere and seem to be flying, then disappear for the rest of the year.

The race started and I planned to stick to my race plan. Often the best way as most of the time in these races it is hard to know exactly where you our.  As the laps whiled away and my nutrition and plan seemed to hold together another SS passed me, but without clocking his number and real idea I didn't chase, plus at this point in the race, it would be against my plan and the bigger picture in a few weeks time.

I pushed on and passed many riders, in many different categories and even got caught up in the start of the 2hrs race, but put in the effort to up my pace so as not to lose time on other I was racing to slowing to let these guys passed. Once these guys had passed I settled into my rhythm again and ticked the legs over nicely.  However soon, my bike was plagued by an ominous creak, which I decide to inspect thoroughly once.  I would have easily lost a minute here, but better than the alternative.  Everything checked and in working order I pressed on, however as I started another SS rider appeared on my wheel.  Balls! I had gifted him a minute or so.  But lets not panic.

Over the next 2 laps we swap positions, 2nd and 3rd a few times. Then I managed to steadily ride him off my wheel, but suddenly he reappeared. Onto the last lap and the same occurred I rode him off my wheel, but in the last 600m's he appeared from nowhere and latched onto my wheel, but he didn't have the legs to get past.

Coming into the last 300m's I made a simple mistake, which meant he sneaked past, but I was soon on his wheel again. Once chance was left, a dirty loamy corner in a steep climb.  I had nailed this every lap. I back off a bike length or 2 has he sat right on the wheel of the 2hr rider in front of him.  This would be a mistake, sure enough at the corner, they both faltered and stepped off. I called "track" and the 2hr rider who was on my line jumped out the way.  The SS rider, with not right of way, jumped in my way, knocking me off my bike.  Angrily I run my bike to the top as he did the same and sprinted for the line and just missed pipping him on it.

I have to admit I was quite pissed off at the time and rightly so.  But like I say I have moved on. After a while I focused on the good. I had stuck to the plan, my nutrition was spot on and I rode the sections the way I had planned after the first lap.  In fact, it was probably my most disciplined race in the last 18 months.  I also got 3rd in the Cat and roughly 16th overall in the 4hr.  So another podium for Cycleworks, the team is getting quite a few this year.

(Photo: Chris Noble)

So overall, I am really happy with this result.  I feel disappointed for Al Fairbairn, whos handle bars snapped, but glad he was OK and inspired by his massive attempt to get back in the race.  Thanks to Chris's dad for helping out, Cheers!

ACU and Gorrick, awesome course and great event well done again.

Thanks Cycleworks, Weldtite and Alpkit.

Next stop, Bontrager Twentyfour12.  Confidence is up, I am finding some form and everything else seems to be coming together nicely. Fingers crossed at the end of July I can have a similar blog to post.  :)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Splintered Ankle

The title makes it sounds worse than it is/was.  Out on a ride Sunday with Nik, after she had headed back I was off to do another couple of hours.  Feeling a bit bored with the old trails I decided to have a look at some new trails to ride and found some great stuff packed into a small area with some nice little descents and climbs. I will be riding these again for sure, just one section a bit more carefully.

Coming to the end I a well worn trail, I could see a path extending under the trees and knew that the main trail was not far ahead. So I decided to go a bit cross country shall we say.  If I am honest, the only flora that was going to take a hiding was the bracken (a weed in the Surrey Hills) so morally I felt happy to press on even though the path was a little over grown.

With the main trail in sight I decided to forge on a bit quicker and as I did, WHACK! I slammed my leg into a hidden log.  Looking down I didn't think too much of the damage, just a torn sock. As I brushed a bit of broken wood from my leg I realised the extent, I felt the piece of wood move deep in my ankle, but now the end sticking out I had broken off. Idiot!

I walked the last few metres to the main trail and took a look, it was in deep and was not coming out trail side.  I called Nik as I was not keen to ride too much, as this would work it in further.  After speaking to Nik I managed to ride one legged for about 3k back to a car park to wait.  At the car park I could confirm the splinter was between 2-3 cm's long and quite thick, easily felt and a visible lump on my ankle, I was also surprised by how painful it was getting.

By the time Nik arrived it was indeed very uncomfortable, she drove me home and took a quick look, but couldn't quite get it out and was reluctant to dig around too much.  So off to A&E we went.  Here I was seen very rapidly and I am sure the male Triage Nurse played the system a little.  The Nurse Practitioner who saw me after X-ray, had a pretty good go at getting it out, but unfortunately she lost it at one point and had to refer me for a consult Monday morning, as the splinter slipped further in.

Monday morning came and I was at A&E only long enough to sit down before being called.  The Dr, Mark turned out to be a climber from Craggy and recognised me (a good thing this time  :)  ).  He got stuck in after a quick look, he filled my ankle with local and started cutting, then digging around.  After a bit more cutting (an incision about an inch long and quite deep) et voila, he produced a splinter nearly 3 cm's long and about 4mm in diameter.  Now I know why it hurt, it was damn fat.

No riding or climbing Monday, just sitting around with this on my leg (below) and waiting for the swelling to go down, fat ankle.

Super impressed with Mark the Dr, as he did just get stuck in and was very efficient, and it was nice to be able to chat about sports and not be looked at as if "why are you doing supposed dangerous sports?".  As I have had a more than a few times in the past.  The nurse was also super chatty and efficient and before I could get a photo of the offending twig, she had thrown it in the bin.

Anyway, the splinter is gone and it is Tuesday, which means I am allowed back on the bike and will head out this eve for a spin and then head to Eelmoor tomorrow to race.  Only down side is, that Mark was confident the scar will heal very well and not be too big.  No war wound to talk of. :(

Moral of the story is folks, watch out for those fallen branches, they do just jump out in front of you.


Monday, 1 July 2013

Y Wrench Allen Keys - Cyclo Tools

I have had two sets of Y Wrench Allen Keys from Cyclo (Weldtite), the 2, 2.5, 3 and the 4, 5, 6 for review for a little while now.

OK, I will get the one con out the way first.  The 4, 5 and 6 version comes as ball ended version and I understand why, you get a little more tolerance of the angle you can use the tool at. My issue with this being that sometimes ball ended Allen keys slip and round out the bolt, even a little can become a problem.

Now for all the good stuff and there is a lot.  Firstly as the picture above shows they have a really nice surface area to grip, not too big and not too small, I find them easy to use with my big hands as does Nik with her little hands, super important as she is my chief mechanic at 24hr races, they are also comfortable use.

The tools are well made and certainly stand up to a great deal of abuse, I have had mine for a while now and used them a lot, but they show very little use.  Between the two tools they cover all sizes of Allen Keys I need for my bikes and the Y shape I have to add is surprising helpful in improving access and adding leverage with some of the harder to access bolts.

These have become a permanent fixture in my tool box.  Great work guys, but sometimes you still need something with quite a long handle to get enough torque on a bolt.  For everything else these do the job.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Eelmoor Crash Fest

It was another round of Eelmoor last night and I was feeling the burn from a hard Sundays' climbing, single speed mash-up on Monday night and a hard chalk climbing session on the ice tools Tuesday night.  Not to mentioned a lob on said chalk onto a large rock that has bruised my right butt check.

Perfect prep, well they are only short and I never expect to do well as they are to build my leg speed and have some fun, and if all goes well do some work for the lads.

A nice warm up ride over with Natty, signed in and met the rest of the Cycleworks crew, some more warming up and it was time to race.  Surprisingly I found myself at the front and not having to do a lot to stay there, not on the pointy end, but first 20 or so and just mooching around there, a few turns of speed saw me a little slow to react, but I would calmly work my way back up to the front.

In the pack seemed uneasy, lots of little mistakes happening and serious lack of talking, quiet as a mouse compared to the E/1/2's.  The silence always unnerves me, knowing how animated the same category was back home.  There was also, far too much dodgy bike handling going on as well, people turning corner in straight lines, others trying to pedal with the bike leaning over too far.  At one point I guy just darted across in front of me, just about taking out my front wheel, then swung back to where he came from almost hitting another rider, WTF?

In the corners I had people lean on me about 3 times, but stayed calm and most times opted to hold a tight inside line, knowing that most can't hold these lines at speed (maybe 15 riders in our cat can).  This was evident as one guy tried to come up inside me with no call and me with no place to go, suffice to say I had a few words as did the guy next to me, as he would have been next on the ground.

Despite all this it was mid race before of the top corner there was the first crash, fortunately I was tight on the inside and manage to scoot pass and ended up right near the front, but back off to fall in about 10th wheel.  The race progressed with more of the same and I was staying comfortably with the bunch.  A few turns of speed, made me work, but I now think I know what works best for me.

on the last corner of lap 4 to go (or there abouts) I am not sure what happened, but I missed the sprint, it was a fairly hard one, I had got a bit caught in the middle and towards the back of the bunch and missed a gear.  It took me the entire start/finish straight to get back on and pull a few others back.  As I rejoined the group at the top bend the inside line was clear, so I called and darted into it and appeared on the other side about 3 wheel, with Jack alongside me. I stayed there for a little while, made the bottom corner and then sat in a bit.  We rounded the top corner again and a similar scenario played out, not quite 3 wheel, but managed to work up the outside towards the front again.

On the last lap I was going to use the same tactic, hold the tight line off the top corner as everyone sweeps left and then stay right and try to get near the front for the last bend.  The corner went to plan, but then there was a touch of wheels and a bunch of riders went down. I slammed on the brakes and ended up on the grass, and slid to walking pace, I had a quick look back and as many seemed to be getting on their feet I finished the race at a casual pace.

All the Cycleworks guys where OK and only young Calum had gone down badly, but he wasn't badly hurt at all, everyone else had missed the crash and Nick K had gone for a roll in the under growth.  Once lad still lay on the ground, with some minor head injuries and maybe a broken collar bone, but I am told he was conscious and talking when pop in the ambulance. Good show youth and mend quick!

Jack and Mike, managed to grab 4th and 5th, I believe which was impressive as they had done a massive amount of work in the race.  Maybe next week now that I seem to have some leg speed I can help out a bit more and give them a break.  We will see.

Weldtite TF2 Aerosol Spray

As some may know Weldtite have got behind me for this year and one of the great products I have been given is the TF2 aerosol.  This is one of the best lubricant products I have ever owned, if not the best.  In the bottled form it is great, but in the aerosol it is just so damn handy.

TF2 Aerosol Spray with Teflon® Surface Protector (400ml) thumbnail 

Why? Simply put, it does all the things the bottled TF2 does, but without needing wiping off or making a mess.  In particular it has been great at my endurance races where having the ability to give the drive train a quick spray to lube it again if much easier than the faff of a bottle.

Also, I find it much easier to give the springs in my pedals a spray with the can and get it actually on and into the springs rather than it dripping ever where and needing a wipe off after.  The little red pipe for the nozzle extension certainly comes in handy as well, allowing you to get to parts in difficult places, like mech springs, without covering you bike in lubricant.

How well does it work?  Every bit as good (extremely good) as it's bottled little brother, which I also use religiously on my chains when maintenance speed is not critical.  It repels water well, penetrates well and does not attract a lot of foreign bodies to the lubed surface, if any.

Top Tip: it can be used as a more gentle WD40 also, for those bits you forgot to lube or grease properly when you last had them off the bike or car.

I can't recommend TF2 products enough, I have used them for a while and I have never been let down.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Eelmoor Round 5

First road race of the year and I didn't expect much and therefore wasn't disappointed, lets face it, I don't train for these races, in fact they are training.  After a swift ride over with Mr Kirke, rego and we were off.

I sat at the for of the pack for a while, but knew my leg speed would soon fade and as it did I sat in the pack for a while, but was soon dropping off the back.  Once off the back rather than sit up and wait for them to lap me, I work hard to put some pain through the legs and staff out for a as long as I can after about 5 laps or so doing this, I was caught (lapped) and settled back into the bunch.

I just sat in there until everyone started jostling for positions, as I had been lapped I dropped off the back to let them get on with, even a few other who had been lapped once or even twice decide to mix it up, I just don't see the point.

The race was pretty rapid and it was great to see Cycleworks and VC Meudon battling it out and working each other over and the rest of the field during the race.  However, this time they all seem to miss once chap who had been hiding and following at about 7/8 wheel all race (a pretty smart ride to take the win), some last corner handling errors forced some or our boys to take evasive action, and drop some places, but Tom Hughes managed to charge home for 2nd.

Was great to see the guys working well together and Jack and Nick put in a huge amount of work.  In a couple of races when my leg speed returns I should be able to help out again.

A couple of picks from the 24hrs of Exposure

Thanks Mr Joozle (Dave) great shots throughout the gallery.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

24hrs of Exposure - Race report

Often when writing a race report I try to be upbeat if it went wrong or down play it a bit if it goes well.  Well this one may be a little odd as it was going well and then went complete ares up in no time at all.

Coming into the 24hrs of Exposure I was confident of one thing, I am very strong on the bike now for endurance racing I have put in the time on the bike and looked after any niggles in the body as soon as they arise.  So I was confident coming into the race of doing well, not cocky though.  Too much can go wrong in a 24hr to ever be cocky or to ever have a favorite coming into one.

After arriving Friday night, relaxing a bit and catching up with Phil, Shaggy, Mel, and Matt, Nik and I headed to bed.  In the morning, we would sort the pit a bit more, Phil and I did recce loop of the track at a casual pace and thought it to be Ok.  I made a gear change to the singles going from 32/20 ratio to a 32/18 ratio as the course wasn't too steep or had any big climbs, until the rain came down this was a good choice, although was changed by Shaggy as the rain changed the game later on.

So after milling around for a bit, 12 o'clock approached and we were soon off and Phil and I found ourselves lapping comfortably at the same speed, so I settled in for the long haul.  As the hours ticked by, positions changed, the lap times settled down a bit and I certainly found my rhythm.  Although I did get caught up a couple of times for a few minutes in mini battles with other riders, it was mainly to keep a fluid rhythm on the single, I did remain settled and calm.

More laps ticked by and I had a good strategy for the heavier or slippery climbs, I was refueling well and keeping my stops to a minimum.  Phil and I would lose contact then join up again as we rode our own races and as per normal everyone encouraged each other along.

As I pushed on I felt strong, calm and just kept to my own race plan. Soon it was lights on as the sun started to set, this is the time I love riding into the night is fantastic.  As I ride so much at night to train, I always looked forward to this phase of a 24hr.

Lights on and some more food in and I was off, same tempo cheery and still smiling.  Phil and I again synced up on course and saw an amazing sunset as we crossed through some of the thinner parts of the forest.  We lost contact through a slippery of camber section as his fat tyres gripped the surface and the guy in between us refused to let me pass. Oh well, I passed the next climb.

I was starting to feel the cold as I finished the lap and could see the rain clouds rolling in. I stopped, ate a bit more, got my leg warmers and a waterproof on as the clouds dropped every millimeter of their payload.  As the rain eased I headed out, even a little happier know it was dark and wet.  I had asked Nik and Shaggy to change my gear ratio back to 32/20 as the course hadn't really dried out and now I was spinning a little easier.

This nest lap went as well as the others and I felt quite good, but was still feeling cold, so decided I would stop again and change my baselayer, jersey and arm warmers for a base layer and light jacket. As I rolled in the team swung into motion, Shaggy changed garmin and lights from Toad to Tonka and Nik grabbed my dry clothes as I ate some more.

In a few minutes it was time to hit the course again, I felt focused, but apparently seemed elsewhere.  But it didn't take much to get me back on the bike, I was feeling good despite a little cold.  But the dry clothes will fix that, right.

I headed off down the course and in about 300m's, I blacked out for a second, I woke up veering sideways.  I fired in a couple of caffeine gels and continued on.  A few minutes later the same thing again.  I put some more food in an entire Mule Bar, backed off a little but kept going.  I kept having these black outs.  I slowed a bit more, to the point it was quicker and certainly safer to walk.

I walked about a mile, having eaten and drunk a bit more hoping this would pass.  But it continued, by the time I got to the next marshal I was a mess.  I don't think I made much sense to the marshal, as he had to ask me if I want to quit.  I said "yes".  He kept me there for a few minutes then sent me down the road to the next marshal, he checked I was alright and sent on to the next one and then it was direct to the event village.

I made it back to the pit, where Shaggy and Nik, were surprised to see me, but concerned about me. I dropped the bike and collapsed on the ground.  I recall them both talking to me, but not what they were saying.  I think I just kept saying "no", which was probably the wrong answer.  After sometime, Nik managed to sort me and some gear out and stick me in a shower.  I think I was in there for sometime. Even after the shower and more food I was very wobble, not terribly lucid and just wanted to go to bed.

In the morning I was still feeling terrible, but did my best to cheer those on, still racing from the stability of a chair in our pit and wrapped in lots of clothes feeling a bit cold and exhausted still. Soon the other started to wake up and I thanked them for their help and support and congratulated Phil and a great ride and 2nd in the Fatbike category.

Slowly as the morning wore on I became more lucid, but still felt like I had raced an entire 24hr, not just 10hrs of it.  A few days later I still feel exhausted, but my legs, arms and shoulders feel as if they have one nothing.  Which is unusual even a few days after a hard 4hr race.

I had to abandon two 24hrs last year, but the reason where clear in those.  One I was only 10 weeks back from a serious back injury and the other was due to tearing a bunch of tendons in my left wrist.  This was different, we worked out I had eaten and drunk well.  I am pretty confident I changed before the cold would cause any issues as I wasn't shivering and I had managed to avoid the drenching rain.  So the body shutting down in the manner and at the speed it did is a slight mystery as I don't feel ill.  The only conclusion that makes any sense is purely the fact that Nik and I have both been so busy for the past few months that I truly ignored how much this would take out of me.  Apparently a hell of a lot and when the body says enough is enough, it means it and you can't argue.

There was a lot of good, how strong I felt on the bike and how easier everything felt, the food we had I wanted to eat and continued to do so.  The bikes ran very well and a complete overhaul is wise in the weeks leading up to a big race as it boosts your confidence in you machines and makes pit management a bit easier.  Staying on the bike when pitting if you have no reason to get off works really well.  For the rest I year I can get back to enjoying cycling as I have a massive base now and this should take some stress of and give me more time for rest.

Massive thanks to Nik and Shaggy for keeping me going and being supportive. Thanks to Phil for some company and encouragement on course. :)  Mel, Katie, Paul H, Les and everyone who offers us lunatics encouragement and support.

Thanks to Cyclework, Weldtite and Alpkit for your support and I promise the season will improve.

Thanks to SIP Events, for another great event and all you staff for their great help.

Matt Carr, tell us a joke. ;)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Gorrick 100 and 24hrs of Exposure

The weekend just passed I took part in the Gorrick 100 as I normally do each year as a prep race for the 24Hours of Exposure.  This year the course location was moved to Porridge Pot Hill and the Gorrick team created a great, fast and interesting track with loads of new bits, with very little fire road trucking.  Despite this the course was fast, very fast, which meant I was always going to suffer on the single speed.

By and large the race went well in terrific conditions, with the course dry and the sun shining. As I tried to keep my pace high with a gearing suitable to a 24hr race not a 100km one.  I pressed on but soon came unstuck with cramps, after a lie down and stretch, I continued on and paced myself to finish and ensure that my legs recovered from the cramps.

By the end of the race I had dropped to 30th, but I have to say I was quite content with that.  My focus remained on the 24Hours of Exposure and trashing my legs was not an option and actively recovering from my cramps during the race was a positive for this coming weekend.

With my focus now narrowed, I am prepping for the weekend, bikes are prepped and I am feeling quite good physically and mentally, but quite restless.  Hopefully the nerves will be useful energy and a positive.

Weldtite, Alpkit and Cycleworks have got right behind me and everything has come together at the right times, so this has also keep the household calm.

I look forward to seeing if all the effort and sacrifices that have been made, pay off.  I am also sure my pit crew will ensure that I keep going and stay fully fueled and the bikes rolling, she bloody good at these and giving a hug when required (don't discount the power of this).

24 hours of Exposure, here goes.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

2013 Training

Well simply put, I made a 2013 training plan, some Strava Challenges help fulfill these plans and I am rapidly approaching the last few 100k's of the April block, in time to taper and be ready for the Gorrick 100 on the 5th May and the 24Hrs of Exposure on the 11th/12th May.

Watching the improvements over the weeks, some of which seem to come with no effort and some when you think you are having the worst session every, have maintained my momentum.

I do have to say, that the incorporation of the Strava challenges to the training goals, for me has worked well.  I am mildly competitive (until you put me on a start line) so Strava doesn't get me wound up, but rather helps keep me motivated.  Entering a training challenge devised by someone else seems to work for my psyche and gets me on the road, trail and even the turbo more often.

But the key thing I put in every training plan is one rest day or recovery day a week, this may include a ride still, but it will probably be very short slow and involved a lot of messing around.  This certainly is one way to maintain the love, losing this would make it hard to train.

I also always have the caveat "if the body says no, the body says no" this has been played only a few times this year, which means I must have something right at present.

As I now head into the race season, the training cycles shift and become a little more flexible and a planned week in the Italian alps riding and another climbing will also break up the season, yet still provide valuable time at altitude and exercising in a more relaxed manner.

The only real questions that remain are, which gearings to use for which races on the singles?  Everything else is currently on track, even with some major development around home in the form of a massive garage and workshop.

As usual, a massive thanks goes to my Nik and indeed my cycling partners and my sponsors for keeping me active and equipment in working order and supplying it.

The race season start is counting down. Tick, Tock, Strain, Puff

Weldtite sponsorship

Some great news from Don'tfalloff Race HQ, Weldtite are sponsoring me for  Endruance races and whatever other types of races I squish in to this years calendar.  They join and Alpkit, and are yet another UK based company.

I have been a member of their Review Team for the last year and can honestly say they make some great products and are really ace people.  So when it came to looking for some additional support, they were my first choice by a long shot.

Below is the first little shipment of products that I received to keep the wheels and cranks turning, clean and lubricated for the year, which looks like an exciting one.

Right now I think there is CX bike that requires some of that Dry Lube (the red cap) and some riding on dusty trails.

Thanks Lorraine, Paul and all of the Weldtite team.  :)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

New Cervo Rosso gear to play with.......woohoo!

Recently, I renewed my Cervo Rosso Test Team membership, why?  Because their gear is just plain awesome.  Below is a short review on the Strada Lizard L2 gloves and I will write another on the Strada shoe covers, also recently tested with great success.

Strada Lizard L2 Gloves:

These can be part of a modular system when coupled with the Strada Lizard L1, which fit together brilliantly and without the feel of wearing two gloves, top marks for that marriage as most don't achieve that.

These (L2) look awesome, the right amount of bling (silver reflective palm, that wont soak the cold out of your bar tape and into the glove) and like they are made to do what you want them to, keep those fingers toasty. They do.

The quality I what I have come to expect from Cervo Rosso and they fit perfectly, which is an issue with many cycling gloves, especially winter ones.  So how are they on the bike, well one cold, but sunny spring day, I gave them (L2) a good test.  In about 0 degrees on the dry roads of Surrey, these gloves keep my hands perfectly warm, breathed very well and felt positive on the bars and the gear and brake levers.  You really can feel what you are doing in these. The extended cuff is something I am use to as a winter climber and it is great to see in a cycling glove, it really does enhance glove warmth.  The temptation to trial them off road is great, but this well just trash them as they will get covered in mud and pushed through blackberries, although I am sure the build quality they will take.  But they look far too nice for that treatment.  :)

How nice you ask?  They initially looked a bit too bling maybe, but Carlyle and the team, know what they are doing and do it for a reason and with a bit of flare.  The stitching, logos, no slip palm, touch screen fingers tips are all designed not to just make a fully functional glove that looks pretty damn pro and pimp.  See below.

What do I like best?  I genuinely don't think I can pin point one thing, the entire glove is great.  even the way the non-slip palm meets, feel a little odd, but once the gloves are on the bars, work and you don't notice it at all.  I guess if pushed, I like best is the fact they breath well and keep your hands warm, not such a simple task for a cycling glove.

What could be improved?  Well I am not sure it is something I care too much about, but some people really do.  The touch-screen finger tips don't really work, but do I care?  No, if I am honest.  However, this might not work as they are still shiny new.   Anyway, I'll quickly take a glove off to send a text or to order an advance coffee.   I have many gloves that do and don't work with a touch-screen.  Some that are meant to and some that aren't.  The one thing they have in common they where bought to do a task that did not include checking Facebook, whilst climbing or riding my bike.  ;)  If you truly want any of your gloves to be touch-screen compatible, just stitch a little bit of silver or gold thread into the fingers tip, this does work.

So overall, I would highly recommend these gloves and will throw them at a mate who gets really cold hands sometime to see how he gets on.  I am truly impressed with these and they felt a perfect fit from the first ride, no needing to soften up like many other summer and winter gloves.  Fit wise I compare them to my MTB Troy Lee and Fox Dirty Paws, gloves which I wear for up to 24hrs racing.  So that is a massive tick in the box for a thicker winter glove.

Get these for spring or next winter.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hutchinson Toro 29 Tubeless

What can I say about Hutchinson tyres, they have always been my got to MTB tyre.  I have strayed a few times, but come back every time.  I have found some which perform as well, but don't last as long or have annoying idiosyncrasies, which on the trail end up pissing you off, if I am blunt.

After the first ride in some ordinary (see wet) conditions I decided I needed a second set for my other 29er.

The 29inch Toro tubeless do exactly what Hutchinson say on the tin (website), they shed mud well, hold-on in wet conditions very well even in fast corners and roll fast when it is not so muddy.  Even is drier conditions the Toro's don't seem to loose much in the way of traction and handling at speed.  I haven't had the chance to test them in really dry conditions, but I suspect they will give something away to my Pythons.

I was even surprised at how easily they fitted to some rims I had problems with with other tubeless tyres.  Tubeless tyres for me are the only solution for the type of riding I do and some of the areas I ride in. Plenty of flint and thorns to puncture your tyres.  So how do they perform, well evidently, very well. I have managed so far to put a few thorns through the tyres and only noticed when washing them and the sealant (Stans) sealed the holes rapid when removed.  One ride even saw a wide gauge bit of wire put a big hole in one and it sealed quickly in -3 degrees.  Very impressed.

I can't fault the Toro's and my riding style does alter from calm smooth and collected to hanging on and being quite aggressive on some descents and the Toro's transition really well and remain predictable and seem to grab that last bit grip just when you are about to lay it down.

Between Toros and Pythons, I seem to have the year and conditions covered.  I can highly recommend both.

Northwave Celsius GTX

I had a great plan to ride through winter again this year, but this time I wanted my feet to stay warm and dry without the hassle of overboots.

Enter a very short search for a winter boot, the Northwave Celsius GTX, shown below.  Arriving as a Christmas present from my long suffering and supportive Nik (I think she just wanted me out the house more) I knew what to expect to a degree as I use Northwave exclusively as they fit and support my feet very well and give great performance both for MTB and Road shoes.

The first thing you notice is that these are very light for a winter boot. Which begs the question are they warm? The answer is yes, just don't try to squeeze too many pairs of socks on your feet into the boot, it will have the adverse affect.  Just like a mountaineering boot, the best warmth is gained by having some room in the boot for the air to circulate.

So does this make the a loose fit? Not exactly, yes you will get a bit of heal lift when walking, but when clipped in I have to say I don't notice the difference and I put this down to the speed lace system gives a nice even fit and then you can pull the velcro tabs a little tighter.  So they fit really well and keep your feet toasty. I have worn them down to about -5 a few times and my feet have been fine.

Are they stiff, how do they perform? Yes and very well.  Northwave have delivered a winter boot sole that performs like your race day shoe and is nearly as light and stiff.  I have tested these extensively climbing and sprinting against my team mates and these boots give noting away in performance.

An added bonus is the rubber on the sole has the most grip I have ever used on a cycling shoe and even finds traction on icy and wet shiny surfaces, which generally have you gambling around like a fawn.  The tread is also a bit wider than normal and shed mud and frozen ground really well and manages to keep the cleat area pretty damn clean.

I have to admit I am a little bias towards Northwave shoes now days.  But when they have been consistently spot on for well over 10 years of personal use, you tend to get that way.  So if the shoe fits and performs well....

I can highly recommend these boots for winter rides.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Gear Reviews - Coming Soon

Hi all, as winter seems to be dragging on I have had plenty of time to test:

Endura Flyte Jacket
Hutchinson 29er Toro tyres
Northwave Celsius GTX boot

All which have been amazing in the wet and cold weather.

I'll write some short reviews on these shortly.

But in general they have been awesome bits of kit an super happy with their performance.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

2013 - what's happening?

or at least planned.

I look back on 2012 and all in all, I can't complain.  Sure some races didn't go to plan, but I did go to Alaska, Canada and France.  I climbed fairly well even if opportunities were limited and I enjoyed the training for climbing and cycling.  I met some pretty cool and nice people stuck up a mountain or on an airstrip, saw a greedy brown bear and complained about the UK weather, with everyone else.

Lets look forward.

In what is becoming a time honored tradition, I don't plan to make things easy for myself and in some ways the long suffering, yet amazingly supportive Nik.  She deserves a medal or a new Yeti ASR5 Carbon.  :)

So there is the normal assortment of 24hr races on the list:

24hrs of Exposure - 24hrs Solo UK and European Champs, as a Vet still on a single speed this year. May
Bontrager Twentyfour12 - Solo Vet. July
Gorrick 100, always a great race. May
WEMBO 24hrs Solo Worlds in the ACT, Australia.  Well if I sort my entry this weekend. October

Amongst this lot things might get a bit bonkers, well there is a plan for it to be anyway.  A couple of challenges set are the following:

South Downs Double - on a single speed.  I think Rob Dean's record is safe.
Pennie Bridleway, in one push.  This truly is going to either test me or break me and we might even start a book on it.  This will be an attempt at the full length, not including the loops, roughly 560k's. It will be hard enough as it is.  August

So that is the cycling big hits for the year, what about climbing. Well, there are a couple and maybe not as dramatic as heading to attempt Denali last year, but challenging for me just the same.

The first is to climb some more E3's and try a couple of E4's.  There are a couple of E3's I have fluffed in the past, that will certainly be tried again.  Small steps first.

Much to my own disbelief, there still seems to be unclimbed lines within the UK at a lot of different grades.  So I will search out some of these and see what can be climbed, its the adventure and unknown that I like about such lines, it is really nice to climbed something that no-one else has.

I have found a few and indeed climbed at least one (Antiquity Direct, Skyline, Australia, Llanberis Slate, 2011) of the few I have found in the pass. They seem to exist as many other climbers want to climb the classics, the test pieces, lack adventure, etc...Who really knows?

Continuing this theme Dan Bergo and I are in discussions in relation to some opportunities to do the same, just on bigger rock faces abroad (not big walling mind).   This really is just talk at present, but we are both keen as it appeals to the adventurers in us.  I will certainly update as this progresses.

So what's first, well, get the damn garage finished. Bikes out the house and continue training and look forward to a fun year.  Oh and enter the WEMBO race.  Finally, be really especially nice to Nik or my brakes might not work.  :(

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Snowy Rides

As the last Rnd of the Gorrick Brass Monkeys was a no go for me, due to my rear hub completely dieing and me for some unknown reason not taking a spare I was out.

But I have been on the bike lots and enjoying the snow and also looking forward to getting to Scotland to play in the mountains soon.

Below are pics from the more snowy rides.