Mountain Bike Shenanigans

Wasting Light
December 18th, 2011

Catching up with a friend in Llandudno left me rather late arriving at Betws-y-Coed for a ride today, so I knew it was going to be tight fitting in a full ride this close to the shortest day. What I hadn’t factored in were the trail conditions. After parking up in town and riding up past the Bryn Afon guest house and up the ‘I swear this road has become steeper’ climb to the Marin Trail, it must have been past 2pm.


Despite the ticking clock I pressed on. The first section of Singletrack that you reach when joining the trail this was is through a thick conifer plantation and was almost pitch black to ride through. After that most of the trails weren’t too bad at all for light. The section through to the carpark at the official start to the trail above Llanrwst was awesome in a brakes off, letting it flow, kind of way.

Marin Trail

After that of course is that climb, the long drag that goes on and on and then again once you’re across the road. The trail conditions steadily worsened and there was more and more snow further around the trail. Conditions were pretty severe and without any lighting or proper winter spec clothing, I bailed after Pixies Paradise and took the A5 back to town. It was properly dark by the time I made it back to the van and I had feet and hands like blocks of ice.

It would have been very foolhardy to have pressed on with the trail even if I had just taken the fire road a bit further to the road descent down from Pont Banog, let alone trying to take in the final section of Singletrack. The conditions were getting icy and I would have potentially have just been another statistic. These mountains can’t be underestimated, especially in conditions which have already claimed the life of others.

New Not Light
December 12th, 2011

So ordered a few upgrades for the Remedy as part of keeping the bike going. Shimano XT trail pedals to replace a very worn out pair of Candy SLs. Hope floating rotors and new tubeless ready wheels built around Hope Evo hubs and Mavic XM819 rims. They replace a pair of rather trail aged Bontrager wheels. I also replaced the rather bent seatpost quick release with a a CNC’d hope lever which hopefully won’t be as soft under my grip. Thing is despite chucking a fair bit of cash at it, the bike doesn’t seem much lighter on paper:

Old New
Seatpost Quick Release 46 52
Pedals 336 410
203mm Front Rotor 183 177
183mm Rear Rotor 164 160
Front Wheel 872 906
Rear Wheel 1079 1042
Totals 2680 2747

The advantage of course is being avke to drop two tubes out of the equation, so that saves about 500g across a pair of wheels. The thing I am interested to see is whether I notice the reduction in rim width. The XM819s (23.5mm) are a bit narrower than the Bontrager Rhythm Elites (27.5mm), but I’m hoping that the ability to run lower pressures will allow things to even out in my favour. All in should save about three quarters of a pound on the bike…

November 13th, 2011

The headset in my 2008 Trek Remedy has been shafted pretty much since the first ride. Coming to use it the next time for a second ride the bottom race had seized up and the bars needed a fair bit of working to get it moving again. In the interests of destruction testing I’ve carried on running the Cane Creek unit until now. After the last ride there was a fair bit of play in the bearings so I new it was time for a replacement.

Tim Johnson at Sideways Cycles in Alsager did the leg work and sourced me a Chris King Inset. Popped down yesterday and Tim did the honours in fitting the new one and binning the rusty old bearings. It’s looking good and spinning smoothly now:

Chris King InSet

Chris King InSet

Fast Lane Please
November 9th, 2011

Came back from a week in France on Sunday and riding into work on Monday was the first time for lights this winter. Last year my Light and Motion HID battery was flat so I had a ride home without front lighting. This year I made sure on Sunday night it was charged up and then also dug out the LEDs for the back. Battery check was good so looked good for the ride home in the dark. Except that when I went to switch on the LED on the back at home time, the bugger was flat… How does that happen?

It was a chilly morning on Monday. I wasn’t uncomfortable in winter weight roubaix keeping my knees and arms warm. I did think that the guy riding in wearing running shorts and a cotton t-shirt who was so pale that he was almost translucent might be a bit cold. This morning the weather was back up a few degrees so that some of those winter layers feel a bit too much.

Today I attended the first UMBUG meeting at The University of Manchester in what’s probably a couple of years for me. There was some useful discussion regarding different things including the Love Your Bike presentation on Getting Moving: A manifesto for cycling in Greater Manchester. This makes 5 core recommendations and there is a general aim to get 20% of Greater Manchester journeys under 5 miles to be undertaken by bike.

They’ve done some cool stuff in the past, including this rather cool campaign:

Fast or Fat

Peak Epic
October 23rd, 2011

Big ride out this weekend with friends from various Ride The Alps trips in France and Switzerland. I’ve been riding in the Peak District since coming to Manchester in 1997 and like to think I know it well. Neil’s lived in the Stockport area all his life and knows it even better from his years motorbike trail riding and mountain biking.

In two days riding we both were shown new trails by our hosts Fi and John riding out of their base in Buxton on the first day and from Hope today. Amazing riding, great company and biking mojo and desire rekindled. It’s been a while but that was the first time in ages I have really enjoyed being on the bike.

Some pics from the two days – weather was fantastic.

Fi and John


Macclesfield Forest

Broken Gear Cable

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