Mountain Bike Shenanigans

Battling On
June 29th, 2008

Perhaps typically just as I indicate that I’d been keen in getting some (not just riding but) racing into my plans, my body decideds it’s had enough and I end up with a horrible sinus and throat infection. Lots of horrid stuff being produced, bunged up headaches and aching joints. A fairly regular dosage of the winning combination of honey, lemon and laphroaig hot toddie and Neurofen Plus and decongestants, have over the course of five days with lots of sleep and sofa lounging helped shift it and I’m on the road to recovery. ‘Cross racing will have to wait for a bit longer.

In the time spent getting better one of the ways to pass the time has been to hook up to xBox Live for a bit of Halo 3 action. I was never a massive person for computer games, but I had a first generation Playstation, before moving to an xBox and then a 360 a couple of years ago. Predominantly I play Halo 3 (H3) at the moment with occasionally a bit of Forza Motorsport 2. H3 for me is a social thing, There’s people I know who I play with either on the same console, or friends in Manchester who are a great laugh to have online or a random number of players from all over the world.

Red player eats shotgun

Yours truly wielding the rather useful shotgun

The thing with H3 is not just the xBox live gameplay which pits you either individually or in teams against others, but the amazing graphics which continue to amaze me even now and the simplicity of the xBox Live matchmaking setup. I think even Apple would have a difficult job of simplifying what Microsoft and Bungie have achieved. Outside the game there’s a whole web community element that has driven development, broadened awareness and appeal through machinema like Red vs Blue and led to the implementation of games like Griffball, which quite frankly is hilarious.

Still it’s not the same as being outthere riding bikes…

Manchester Mountain Bikers
June 23rd, 2008

Manchester Mountain Bikers. Perhaps that should read Manchester Stockport Mountain Bikers. Anyway, one of the guys in Harry Halls gave me a card for these guys last time I was in. It’s a bloody good idea actually – the number of times we used to get people in asking for information about local clubs and had little to give out meant this was a definite opportunity that has been taken. Anyway these are some of the people behind the efforts in Reddish Vale and there’s a cyclocross race this Wednesday night…

I upgraded to Firefox 3 at work on release day (although not at home) and one thing that has iritated me today is that the Spell Checker in the browser no longer seems to work with WordPress. It’s been discussed here.

June 20th, 2008

Why is it that Fox use a different type of anodising on rear shock body shafts and fork stanchion surfaces. They both do the same job, they’re both supposed to be hard wearing, low friction coatings on aluminium. So why aren’t they both the same colour? Let’s consult the experts and see the responses…

Aluminium Doesn’t Grip
June 15th, 2008

Pushed the Harry Hall into a roundabout too fast today and discovered that aluminium doesn’t grip too well once you start trying to corner on the rim. What happened next had all the characteristics of a tank slapper stack in the making, but some how getting the wait of the back of the saddle and a bit of opposite lock some how kept it all together and I managed to ride it out. Freaky moment though. Wanted to ride at Penmachno, ended up riding to B&Q instead. It was shut. Rode home.

What Gear Do You Run?
June 12th, 2008

This morning waiting at the first set of lights on the way into work a bloke on a red Ribble that had been converted to singlespeed came over for a chat. He was riding crosstown rather than into the city, but he was intrigued to know what gear I was running on the Harry Hall. The 50:16 ratio isn’t the key I assured him, it’s the fact that the bike has forward facing drop outs that give an inch or so of adjustment to the wheelbase and allow any slack in the chain to be taken up irrespective of gear.

His bike was running a singulator and it’s vertical dropouts didn’t give any adjustment. As I pointed out even if you could get a specific gear that allowed the chain to be run nicely, the chain always stretches anyway. The lights changed and we headed off in different directions. Approaching the penultimate set of lights something that doesn’t happen very often occurred. Someone cruised past me with a cheery ‘morning’. Cheeky! The spectacle of being overtaken by a slightly overweight bloke on a nondescript geared road bike who’s wearing some hideous three-quarter length grey and red lycra knickers was too much.

Don’t make any visible signs of effort, but wind up the gear. The speed picks up and I start reeling him in, but that 20m gap takes some time to diminish. I’m on his wheel at the next set of lights and just make it through as they change. Then a sign of weakness, as he crosses the junction he eases off and starts freewheeling. This is it. Engage attack mode. Find an extra few rpm and swing out and pass him using the now downhill section of tarmac to catapult me through the S curves taking a lot of speed into a very tight line through the corners.

Don’t look back. Keep the momentum and power up the short climb that follows. Plough through the next corner taking a wide fast sweeping line into the final straight. Feeling a bit short of breath, but hold that pace. Almost there. Slam on the brakes and take the sharp right off the road onto campus. Made it. Spin through the last few bits to the office building that signals an end to the race in. That was an interesting commute, but do i have to watch my back in future? Maybe Sheldon Brown was onto something with his helmet mounted rear-view mirrors.

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