Friday, 14 February 2014

A New Home

After residing on Blogger for the last few years I've decided to go all posh and hosted and opt for a Wordpress site.

I'm still going to be writing the same drivel, but it'll just be living in a new place, hopefully with a few less "Been a bit quiet round here" type posts.

I'm planning on keeping this site up and running for a short time and then close by the end of next month, I've transferred all of my posts over and just need to work out how to get my Google rating back (funny how those simple to follow 5 minute fixes usually aren't on any count)

I hope you can join me as I reckon the future is going to get interesting :)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


A question on a site I sometimes dip in to posed the question 'Where have you been riding recently' which got me thinking about my own saddle time during the past few months, here's my response..

 2014 is, in my mind going to be a big year, I have several challenges set which will require me to be fitter than in previous years, this means I need more training.. Yep, you read that right, training, in order to be able to achieve them.  Two races in the first quarter of the year will push me hard and an imperial century on the road in May means that I need to ensure my hard won form from last year is maintained.

 So, I'll admit where I'm at in order to do this


 ..A turbo trainer

 I've been considering one for about 18 months and now that I have it I can vouch for the brutality of a turbo workout if you're prepared to sweat and suffer in equal measure.  It's great for pre dawn, pre kids rides when the feasibility of riding miles on the road isn't possible.  I enjoy it for the simple fact that I'm turning legs and grimacing when others are huddled down under duvets.

 However, despite the UK being currently battered by heavy winds, rain and low temperatures (a natural phenomenon I like to call 'Winter') I have ventured out doors..

 It's muddy.  Very muddy.  And flooded.

 Fun though and whilst I long for the dry, dusty, frictionless trails of summer I appreciate the hard miles won during winter for the increase in fitness and handling our soggy mud covered  rides are currently handing over in return for the motivation to resist the pull of warm homes and rubbish tv.

 So, I'm getting a buzz from riding indoors and outdoors at present.. I mean, it's just good to be riding at the end of the day, right?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Pre Ride Post

Here it is.. ready to ride. I get the feeling it won't look like this in a few hours!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Hornet

The presence of which answers Jamers question of exactly what was the worst thing that could happen from test riding the demo bike one evening.

I've been thinking of a new bike for some time, but with the road bike added to the stables last year and no real passion for anything I'd seen on the market, the plan had stalled and pushed aside whilst I enjoyed the On One for a few more years.

Jamer, who although having only been a biker for a few years has seen four different brands and set ups pass through his hands was on the look out for something new.  He'd seen the 2014 range of Giants and we spent a Sunday evening dodging wives and kids whilst sneaking looks at the web.

A lad I've done some 24hr races with has gone to 27.5 (650b) and was raving about the benefits of the it and during the Wentwood event of 2013, a 29er riding mate dissolved all doubts I had about larger wheel sizes by out rolling me at every opportunity.

When our local shop became a Giant dealership at the end of the summer last year the deal appeared to be done and with an Anthem and Trance soon acquired as test bikes Jamer made his decision and placed an order for a Trance.

I resisted, insisting I was still happy with the On One, and I was, until the evening I had the test bike of course.

Set up for a lad a bit heavier I managed to fall in love after a single mile.. one that included a road section and some flat bike paths.  That evenings ride was fantastic, I out climbed everyone and was up with Matt, our groups quickest rider on the downs.. suddenly full sus and big wheels clicked and I knew what I wanted.

 Model choice made and order placed, I settled in to wait, according to the dealer site, expected delivery was week 7 of 2014, we worked it out and realised that was close to the Wentwood 50k an event I am desperate to do well in but the right side of it at least.  Jamers was due in week 3 having been delayed from last October (he's not happy at all about that).  I popped in on Monday and was greeted by the shop owner telling me I wasn't meant to be there.. My bike was in, 4 weeks early and before Jamers.. He was even less happy about that..

 And now, it's sitting in the shop waiting for the final swap overs and it'll be properly mine

Thursday, 9 January 2014


That's the only word that can be used to effectively sum up last nights ride.

Bloody wet to you and me.  With some weather system effectively buggering up any chance of having dry trails until 2030 the stoic few of us in the midweek ride group met in the Forest of Dean to make the most of a bad situation.  Our now regular ride haunt around Ross is currently falling foul of the Forestry Commission who are able to turn any piece of woodland quickly and efficiently into a landscape worthy of an end of the world or war film.

We set off with no real plan apart from try and stay upright and to gain as much feeling of smug as is possible for braving the conditions whilst our nesh mates sheltered in doors.

Heading up the man made trail from the Pedalabikeaway car park we were soon heading to a small piece of raised woodwork that was being put in as a trial.  Whilst we all cleaned it without issue, Matt, who is probably the best rider in our extended group had multiple attempts.  Any time he doesn't do something first time and better than anyone else is cause for much hilarity and woe betide him if he falls off.  Whilst he circled around for yet another attempt I wasn't sure whether to take a photo, or, as H suggested crack out the easel and sketch him riding it.. I'd have had the time

Not a great picture, maybe I should have gone with a sketch..


I've not ridden the Verderers trail for about two years and I had a great time picking up the trail again, lots of berms and swooping through deepening puddles whilst the relentless rain pounded down on us.  A strange evening though, wet but humid meaning getting the right level of clothing was tough.. Coat on, coat off..

Sitting at the back through a sweeping section of trail Jamer lost the front end after dipping slightly off trail, he hit a tree dead centre and superman'd it over the bars.. No harm done but he took no time in extolling the virtues of his knee pads to me.

Hitting a well known trail I couldn't believe the sheer amount of standing water and thick mud which lay in front of us, it wasn't recognisable since my last trip down it and if one thing was certain is was that no records were going to be broken as we each (with the possible exception of Matt who had regained his crown as trail maestro) struggled to stay upright and pointing down the trail.

It was here that two things happened, firstly I lost the front end in mud and went over and secondly, I became aware that my cleat had become loose, luckily I fell to the side which I could still unclip from, but the tumble jarred my other knee painfully.  Finishing the trail somewhat more carefully than seconds earlier my mates rallied round and in increasingly heavy rain rearranged my cleat for me.. No lost bolt thankfully but something I need to sort out at home and in the dry.

With the rain now so heavy that our headlights made each raindrop look 6 inches long we headed for a final descent and the sanctuary of the cars. 

The descent in question contained a section of trail I've never cleared before, in thick mud and pouring rain I managed it, getting to the bottom I had an enormous sense of achievement.

Last climb and drop and we were back at the carpark, but not before the final problem of the night made itself known.. My forks had completely seized, something was up and it's the sort of something which needs the bike to be dropped off at Revolutions to sort.. and only 4 weeks until the new one turns up...


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Mucky Nutz Bender Fender Review

Love them or hate them, mud guards are an important part of any UK riders armoury.

I admit to hating them, even to the extent that after countless Mountain Mayhem Battle of the Somme type mud experiences I steadfastly refused to adorn my bikes with them.  Beauty is in the eye of the bikeholder and I didn't want to spoil bike lines with massive great big wings stuck out over the rear wheel.  My brief flirt using a 'free with a mag' crud catcher ended with a crash and I could never be arsed to buy and fit another.

I first came across the Mucky Nutz brand on another blog, the writer explained the lightweight nature of the item and that it was fixed only to the saddle rails to allow ease of fitting and removal.  I promptly ordered on and it has been with me (either on the bike or in the rucksack) since.

Up front though, I've not had much and during a ride a couple of weeks ago I saw a lad with a Bender Fender.  I liked the low profile design and the same simple design which copied across from the rear guard.   Heading to the website when I got home I browsed through the units on offer and then found the Bender Fender 'Lite' in the clearance area, having been reduced to £4.50.. bargain. 

When it arrived it was flatpacked in an envelope with a 30" length of double sided Velcro zip tied to it.  Fitting was a breeze (even for a technical incompetent like myself).

Firstly I cut the Velcro into 5 same size lengths and then fed it through the hole in the fender, around the fork stanchion and secured it on itself.  I’d read a review that it could be a little tricky to fit, but I guess taking the wheel out means free uniterrupted access.  I worked on the side fixings first and then on the fork bridge, pulling each one to align the fender over the wheel, balancing coverage and clearance.

Overall, fitting took me 5 minutes and a quick spin of the front wheel showed no areas of rub. 

So far, so impressed.

My first ride out was a perfect opportunity to test the function of the fender.  The weather has been truly atrocious, heavy and prolonged periods of rain have turned even the most weather resilient trails into a series of puddles and the hardiest of riders have been calling off rides.

Into the Forest of Dean and I was keen to see how the guard performed, I acknowledged when I placed the order that due to the short length, I was still going to get some splash up but I admit to being incredibly impressed, even through horrible thick mud and then free flowing water the guard performed incredibly well.  The down tube was testament to the effectiveness of the bender fender at the end of the ride, looking far less spattered than normal.

Not only is it efficient, but it's low profile looks mean that for me, this is going to be a permanent fixture to the bike and will be transferred when the new one arrives in a few weeks time.

For a simple, effective and good looking solution to the eternal problem of mud in the UK I highly recommend anyone get the Mucky Nutz Bender Fender!  Available here

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Looking back... and forward

At the start of 2013 I sat and prepared a post which looked forward to what I hoped to achieve during the coming 12 months.

With the calendar rolling from one year to the next I find myself repeating the exercise, with one eye on the previous year whilst the other gazes at the potential filled new year.

So, 2013..
Goal One was to complete the Wentwood 50k in a good time, as my post at the end of May explained, I could have done better.  The illness which dogged me for the first three months effectively sealed my fate and a dogged approach to riding wasn't going to out do poor preparation.
Goal Two was to ride 2013 miles.  Again, not good, by the end of may I had managed 358 miles, a new job, illness and new baby all ensuring that riding time was limited.  During the next six months I added just over 1400 miles to that, bringing my annual total to 1760 miles.  Good (in fact my highest mileage year to date) but falling well short of my target

Goal Three was to learn to jump, I'm happy with this, I'm not tail whipping off every bump in the trail but I'm now getting happier with my wheels leaving the ground, regaining a love for riding has helped with this but I see it as a work in progress that will only improve with time

Goal Four initially to complete a half iron man, amended to complete an imperial century was completed with panache at the Malvern Mad Hatter in September.  After giving it some thought, I'm shelving the idea of completing a long distance triathlon.. I just don't like the triathletes I brushed shouders with during training.

So, a strike rate of 50%, not bad, but plenty of room for improvement!

2014 then..

With my biking mojo back I again want to challenge myself, but I'm keen not to rehash last years..

Goal One
Ride 3000 miles
Yeah yeah, I know it's a rehash, but this will prove challenging, equating to around 60 miles a week I'm gong to need to have consistent riding through the year to hit my target.  It's my target though, so I'm going to include road, offroad and turbo riding.  Miles gained by turning pedals counts ;)

Goal Two
Blog more and improve my writing style
I keep trying, keep failing, but I want to make this site work.. I'm going to make sure I take a camera with me and document my biking adventures for the coming year.  I also am aware that my writing style is pretty dire at times, I'm going to try and develop more flair and finesse in my writing.. it's a goal, but I don't know how I'm going to get there yet!

Goal Three
Get 15000 page views
Tied in with the above, I want to double the traffic through the site.  I hope that reviews and more frequent posts will allow me to achieve this..