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Next epic ride

… following a few beers watching Rampage 2015 and taking fondly of the epic ride to the pub, a new ride idea has been born.

Details to be revealed later but I’m excited already.

I need to have something bike-related planned to keep my riding mojo. It’s slacking at the moment and I have our annual winter weekend in Wales coming up in 3 weeks. Better get a few miles in the legs.

Planning an Adventure

Life is short. Too short. This is why I try and plan something exciting every month, usually cycling related, sometimes with the family. It gives me a week or so to bask in the memories and a week or 2 to prepare and think for the next one. Most of these are trips to ride trails that we don’t get in Warwickshire, Cannock, Shropshire or Wales. Some are trail centres, some more more natural riding.

A few years ago Mayhem became a big adventure, even more so after the first year when I realised how hard it was. A lot of mental and physical energy went into preparing and 5 or 6 years on, while it’s still a regular on the calendar, it’s not the same challenge as it was.

Buying a singlespeed has recently lent itself to another adventure opportunity. Some sort of long distance ride, simple, less to go wrong, take your time, just get there sort of thing. Bring this together with the fact I live very near the Grand Union canal and the adventure writes itself.

Ride the Singlespeed to London from home, in a day, have a beer and hop on the train home. On doing a bit of research, many people have done it but usually over a couple or 3 days, stopping overnight en-route somewhere. Most people do it on geared bikes with suspension and not rigid singlespeeds. Most people seem to over-estimate how hard it is.

But if we (the ‘we’ being Pete and I) did it in 2 days, where is the challenge ? So it has to be 1 day, on rigid singlespeeds and in time to grab a beer at the station before  train home.

On first look it seems doable.

  • At just over 100 miles it’s not that far really.
  • We can knock out 30 or more miles at a fast pace on a Sunday without feeling totally shattered.
  • It’s on the canal tow path so can’t have that much climbing
  • We should be able to ride at 10mph average as we would do 14mph or so on the fields and usual trails we ride
  • In summer it gets light at 5am and last train is 10pm is so we have 17 hrs to play with
  • We are fitter than the average rider
  • We know pain and mental strength from doing Mayhem

On second thought, and discussion with other people the picture changes slightly.

  • 100 miles on a road bike is a long way
  • Fat tyres make a lot of difference to rolling resistance
  • Tow paths are not roads
  • I’ve not ridden 100 miles in a single go, yet. Pete’s done 90 odd on the road though
  • The first 50 miles will be fine, but doing another 50 is a different matter
  • Rigid bikes are harder on the body
  • A rider who rides long distances thinks doing it in a day would be an achievement … gulp
  • He smiled and said ” that would be a challenge”

So, here we are. Mentally committed. We have decided it can’t be as hard as other people make it sound. Pick a nice day, set off early and we are committed, we have to make it. Take no spare clothes or overnight stuff and we have to get there in a day.

Next steps are to do a 50 mile ride towards London in a week or 2 to see how we get on and how we feel – out for 25 miles at the pace we want to do the whole ride in, then turn around and come home.

Updates to come later…

Riding after illness

The title says it all – I’ve been ill and am just starting to ride again.

I thought I had a spot of flu but it went on for about a month. A phone call to the docs highlighted glandular fever as a possibility but either way I’m starting to get over it.

First ride back was on the singlespeed and I thought I would die. No stamina, high HR, lack of energy and sore legs made it a bit of a miserable ride. Most unusual as I usually enjoy every ride no matter how bad I feel.

Roll on another week and while I didn’t feel right I was a lot better and this was backed up by how well I rode. I didn’t get off to walk on the hills, I didn’t get dropped and while it hurt (it always hurts) I recovered well enough in between efforts to enjoy myself.

Most importantly I want to ride again and now the clocks have gone forward I can get a sneaky ride it after work.

Another Year, another Mayhem

Mid February is an odd time of the year for me. My Birthday is early Feb, so that’s done and dusted, I’ve got over the New Year blues we all get and am usually back into the swing of work and I’m starting to think of some new challenges for the year.

Then we have the end of Feb deadline. Mayhem entries.

This will be my 6th year riding as a part of a 4 man team with no pretensions of winning, indeed a top half finish is our aim as well as beating the other 3 or 4 or so teams we camp with. As a bunch of middle aged men who get to ride once a week, twice at best we do pretty well and the past few years have beaten the other teams of much lower  average age than us.

I’m looking forward to this year, the second at Gatcombe park should be a good one. Lessons will have been learned, there will be trackside camping and we seem to have recruited a new team of graduates to ride with us.

Having a team of new people is good for the soul, my soul that is. On the surface a 7 or 8 mile loop with a few hours rest doesn’t sound particularly hard. Riding at night sounds, and is, fun. Being a part of a massive event is brilliant so how hard can it all be, right ?

Those of us who have done it know how hard it can be. Physically it’s hard but mentally it’s harder so I look forward to the banter with the graduates, watching some crumble and some relish the challenge. Our second longest team, on their 2nd or 3rd Mayhem struggled with the mental resolve to get out in the rain and cold to do another lap last year. It’s knowing that however hard I’m finding it, there are others who are finding it much harder that makes it good for the soul. If you give them all banter and wind them up, you can’t roll over in your sleeping bag and go back to sleep.

So with less than 2 weeks until entries are due, the anticipation and excitement starts to build.



D Day is here…

or is that M-day ?

The last day of Februrary sees the opening of entries for Mayhem an,d as usual, I feel nervous and excited.

This year Pete and I plan to drive to Pat’s house to drop off our entry. We’ve both thought about going the past 2 years or so and as it’s a Thursday and I’ve got conference calls all day tomorrow, it seems possible. It means getting to bed around 3am but then if we wanted an easy life we wouldn’t be entering in the first place would we ?

We won’t be first there as we need to get the forms printed off (at another team members house at midnight) so there will be a 30 min drive to Pat’s. Next year we’ll have to sort out a portable printer and do it at the top of the lane via 3G.

Upgrade Update

The Yeti is back, serviced and rejuvenated.

Al at PHC did the work and the bike looks like new. It had the bearings replaced and a general strip down, clean and rebuild. A few minor upgrades were done and the weight is down a bit to 25llbs. Not very light but that’s never been the intention – quality, reliable bits without spending an absolute fortune was the plan and that’s what I have.

The bike was nearing 5 years old and ever since I bought the cheapest build kit I’ve had this re-fresh in mind. The chainset was upgraded to 3×10 XT, with XTR shifters. The SLX brakes were proving to be a pain requiring a lot of bleeding and squealing after a few rides so were udpated to Hope tech X2 and the Mavic wheels were replaced with Hope Pro2 Evo hubs on crest rims and shod with tubeless Nobby Nic tyres.

A quick spin up the Long Mynd was a real joy – shifting with the new XTR shifters is so light and precise, the

The Yeti on the Long Mynd

The Yeti on the Long Mynd

feel is a mile away from the old SLX but then it’ should be as it has far better internals compared to the work plastic ones in the old ones. The brakes have the race leves with less power than the trail ones but more than enough for me and the bike ran smoothly on the new wheels.

It was like riding a new bike that just felt so familiar, but then that’s what I was riding – a lot of the parts you interact with were new and more recent iterations – the shifters are top of the range Shimano  yet the frame and forks are the same I’ve been loving riding for the past 4 years.

This will be it on upgrades for the Yeti – it’s as good as I’ll ever want it and will be the choice for all day rides (and more of course)

… now what do I do with the old wheels…

Hello world!

Welcome to Ramblings.

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while, mainly to record things for myself, thoughts, trips, events, stuff in general so I have a record. So here we are. I bit the bullet, got a domain and uploaded wordpress to an account I have with a hosting provider.

I’ll be blogging about all things except work, things that interest and excite me. At present this will include bikes (anything on 2 wheels), baking, gadgets, trips and my general thoughts on anything I  fancy.

Currently it’s for myself and let’s see how we get on…