Mountain Bike Shenanigans

April 26th, 2006

The Trans Wales trip starts on Saturday morning first thing. We have the maps, we have everything in place. Originally this is the kit I had outline to take. Riding gear for three days namely:

3/4 length pants or baggies (depending on weather on 1st day)
Merino t-shirt.
Merino mid layer.
Waterproof shell.
Merino socks.
Winter boots.

Carrying in rucksack:

Pertex Gillet
Microfiber trousers
Merino t-shirt
1 pair of socks
1 pair of pants
First aid kit + survival blanket
Standard trail tools (pump, PR kit, multitool, xc lube) + spare chain and 3 tubes total.
Maps & compass
Wash kit (toothbrush, toothpaste & showergel)
Notebook & pen for trip notes
Digi Pocket Camera.
Camelbak bladder

Now the weather has turned and it’s properly warm and like summer I’m not so sure. I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, but you never can tell what the weather is going to do.

I am thinking that I need some more stuff to put up on the walls and I like some of these. Just trying to work out which ones look best. Talking of arty things. If I was any good at photography (like Dan), I’d be seriously interested in the Red Bull Illume competition. It has a seriously amazing prize up for grabs…

On a computing front it is interesting to see some of the Apple Mac Kit that Micrsosft are running in their R&D labs. Check it out. 150 Mac Minis… that’a ace.

Tyrrell is still trying to convince me to do the Cape Epic. We’ll see if he’s so keen after Wales has beaten him this weekend.

Had a couple of email too. Chris sends word from Norway:

From: Chris
Subject: Greetings from Norway

I am still here
nearly a year and a half later living the laid back Norwegian
lifestyle and getting in plenty of time on the slopes during the
winter and hopefully plenty of time on the singletrack this summer.

I have been keeping up with your antics though the regular updates on
rothar and see that you are riding more and more with the guys from
singletrack. The mtb’ing out here had been limited so far what with
finishing off the PhD when I first arrived and being carless it meant
limited riding around Bergen which is like the highlands of Scotland
on steroids its either fireroad or full on DH, I have scoped out the
norwegian cup DH course near the city centre after watching some
footage of racers walking section and thinking ‘lightweights’ I was
shocked to see that the course looks un-walkable in places so they
were doing well to walk it!

As a result (of having no car and the lack of riding buddies for mtb
action) most of my riding has been on the road both commuting and
recreational. However the fixie (did you ever see the low profile
late 80’s track fame I had set up for the road with the top tube that
sloped significantly down to the front?) albeit nice to ride is a bit
of a handful on some of the local climbs (12% ers) so I am in the
market for a decent road bike.

Ben is back on line up in Scotland too. Sounds like he is riding true to his word and getting in some great trails both on the burly beast and the DMR. Now all I need is a long weekend in Scotland to catchup. When are the mozzies on holiday?

From: Ben
Subject: HowdyBoyo

Ey up mate.

Wanted to send you a mail as I was a little tipsy when I saw you. Was good catching up though. Was a bit of a hectic visit to manchester so sorry for not getting in touch, wasn’t personal, I just tried to spendtime with my wee brother, don’t get to see him much.

Anyhoo, Not a huge amount to report, just that I’ve been doing as much riding as I can. Getting right into xc stuff (well thats what i call it – I do ride a trailstar….), the red run at glentress is dope if a bit worn. Gonna head back and teach the black route a lesson,
hopefully there’ll be no snow this time – It happened again, its a personal curse obviously. Just ordered some Flat crowns for my triple 8’s, finally It’ll ride a bit less like a harley.

Rode the newer dh at innerleithen when we were in the area. It rocks (even in snow), the
jumps are sooooo sweet, the nice wee drop into the chute down across the fire road into a big jump then doubles. I could stay there all year.

Finally got myself a descent digital camera, so I’ve been playing with that. No real riding shots yet, when it doesn’t rain I’ll get it sorted. But I did update my blog – been meaning to do that for a while! Kinda mainly landscape shots, but check it out if your bored.
Anyway, just wanted to say hullo. We should meet up at glentress sometime (unless you wanna get a dh bike!), would be a good laugh. Right I’ll shut up now.

Enjoy youself mate and see you soon.


Harry Hall Elan
April 21st, 2006

Harry Hall Elan

It’s all built up. Thanks to everyone who helped out with bits. Photos here.

Back on the Road
April 19th, 2006

Popped into Harry’s tonight to get some bits and who’s there? No one other than Ben down from Scotlandchestershire. Cool to catch up with him. Check out his blog over at West Coast 100. There’s even some photos of Dunoon! It looks like an ace place to go riding and that’s for sure.

Finally finished building up the Harry Hall frameset tonight. Put it on the scales and was staggered to see it weight in at 20lb. Damn that’s light. I thought it was going to be a lot heavier than that! I’ll take some pictures and post them up soon.

Woo! I have a road bike again. Quite excited about it. Just trying to work out where to go for a ride first…

April 17th, 2006

For about the last nine months I’ve been putting up with a less than wonderful car. There was an engine problem in which the car was fine under normal driving until it was floored or even asked to accelerate moderately fast. The symptoms were that the acceleration was hesitant with loss of power and then it comes back on tap in stops and starts.

At first I assumed it was a fuel starvation issue, but running injector cleaner through the system and several full tanks of Optimax didn’t have any effect. Then I suspected a turbo/airflow related issue and a vacuum leak.

I replaced the main turbo hose and the two intercooler pipes with Samco silicon hoses and put in a Forge DV. This seemed to make it better, but the fault was still there. Not long after one of the speed sensors went on the front nearside front wheel so it went into Audi Macclesfield to get that fixed (ABS and ESP warning lights had come on).

The dealer spent two hours looking into engine problem for which i wasn’t charged, but they couldn’t see anything obvious. A diagnostics check revealed it was pulling more air in than normal so they suspected that it is a vacuum-related problem. The turbo tested fine, no other errors came up on the VAGCom or what ever else it is they use to check such things.

The head technician suggested that it could be a brake servo vacuum leak. He said this is a common fault in S3s. It certainly wasn’t something I have come across on the web and neither had any of the guys over at RS246.

The technician also noted that the brake pedal felt ‘spongier’ than it should. Apparently the brake system works off the same vacuum system as the engine and the proposed solution was that the car went back into the dealer for further tests at the diagnostic labour rate £85 per hour. They will need to get the car up on the ramp drop the engine out and test it fully. If the brake servo was found to be the fault replacement, a replacement is £300 for the part plus the associated labour. Probably looking at £1000 all in.

I wasn’t too impressed with this verdict and decided to try some of the suggestions that were made by other owners’ First up was a new Mass Airflow Sensor, which made absolutely no difference. Not long afterwards the car was up for it’s MOT and was whisked into the Car Care Centre in Padfield.

I asked for them to investigate the engine fault too. This is a great Independent firm that I have used before with previous cars.

NGK Spark Plugs They hooked up to a diagnositics computer that read the ECU memory and this identified a misfire as being logged. Audi were out of coilpacks, so he put in a new set of plugs and it completely transformed the engine. Closer inspection reveals that the plugs have probably not be changed from new. That’s 65K on a set and they were looking very worn.

Really miffed about:

a) Audi claiming to have run a diagnositics test and having missed this simple thing.

b) The car having done 65K and never having had the plugs changed (from what I’ve read this should have been done at 20K and 40K, but probably wasn’t because they’re difficult to get at).

c) The fact that the service also revealed that the rear disc pads were changed, but the discs weren’t – but needed to be – when it was last done. That’d explain the shoddy braking as they are very ‘lipped’ on the inside surface.

The Dales
April 12th, 2006

I’ve been up to the Yorkshire Dales before, but as with the Lake District, I’ve never ridden there. I decided in the New Year that I was going to get at least one ride in at both this season and when it was suggested recently to make a mid-week trip up towards Malham, I wasn’t going to turn it down.

The ride started with a big climb out of Settle and then spread out across the moors with a loop around Malham Tarn. Unfortunately a navigation cock-up (racing ahead down the hill from the only person who knew where we were going) led to an erroneous descent into Malham. As Dave and Sharon had turned off and gone the right way ahead of us at an earlier puncture stop, we had to retrace our steps and a 150m vertical gain climb marked with double chevrons on the map proved to be a complete beast on the Singlespeed back up.

Steve M rides...

Photos from the ride are up here…

New disc pads arrived for the geared bike today, but the singlespeed coped easily with the riding thrown at it today. I’m still not sure what to take to Wales…

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