Seeing Red

Day off yesterday, so headed out on the road bike. I was immediately reminded that the pawls on the Mavic Helium freehub are bolloxed and I need to order some new ones from the hub doctor. Nonetheless in general motoring around it was fine. I am also having to come to terms with the fact that I cannot just big ring it everywhere and I will occasionally need to use the front mech.

The results of doing so were interesting – the acceleration once you put the hammer down on the Ti Crown Jewel is insane. I think the super stiff cranks and BB setup just equate to immediate power transfer and coupled with the right gearing the bike accelerates like stink. When you’re slightly lifting the front wheel when gunning it then you know something is going on. Those SRAM Red levers shift so sweetly down the block too.

The ride itself was rather intense. The conditions when I left seemed to be cool and overcast and within 15 minutes became sunny and then incredibly humid. This on the whole was okay as long as you kept moving, but once you stopped then it was a hot and sweaty affair. Worst was being stuck in insane amounts of traffic for a mid-week ride outside of rush hour and then getting stopped at every single set of red lights. I kid you not it was like I was a bloody red light magnet yesterday.

Red lights

At the top of the climb out of Woodley into Hyde I felt like my brain was boiling. At least getting on the down hills provided some relief. Short on water I headed home sooner than planned, but I am at least getting some mojo back. A combination of more biking, a bit of running at a kettlebells class once a week is seeing an improvement in my general fitness and clearly I’ve lost some weight as shorts that wouldn’t fit before do now. Still someway to go to get back into a decent level of form, but those Peak District hills are calling.

Singletrack plus extra track

As the in laws are on holiday for a month I’ve booked off Tuesday afternoons to look after the boys. So today at 1pm I scooped them up from nursery and bundled them into the trailer. It was adventure time.

Suitably armed with children’s snacks, spare nappy and baby wipes we were off. The downside to being lax on the riding front is that I have just discovered my Camelbak bladder has been stewing for the last god knows how long in the muddy Camelbak from my last ride. It is far from usable. I think it had water in it, but can’t be sure. It may now have aquatic life in it.

So my MULE was not sloshing with water but it did have other trail essentials and some water bottles. We were going off roading. Hooked up on the Fallowfield loop line, made a beeline to Chorlton and then took Hawthorn Lane down to the Mersey.

No way through...

The bloody kissing gates and horse step boxes were a nightmare. I manages to get the bike and trailer through one kissing gate after 5 minutes contorting bikes and then gave up. It was quicker to decouple and do it that way. I also did haul it up and over through a few of the horse step boxes, but that was only a recipe for breakage.

From there the TPT took us to Chorlton Water Park where after ice creams we had a pleasant, but bumpy ride up to Northenden before turning North for the ride home. That ribbon of occasional smooth single track is ok on a bike, but he wide track of the trailer meant a less smooth journey for the boys. I don’t think we’ll try that again.


We were home via a trip to the park to play on the swings after 2 hours riding and 16 miles hauling. My knees ache and I’m knackered but it was good to get out. Now I have a week to plan the next route…

Coming Back

Same ride as last week today. Nice to do it in daylight and not to get rained on. Felt loads better once I warmed up and ended up 20 minutes quicker around the same loop and felt much more focused. Only got off and pushed the Singlespeed twice which was a massive step forward even if just psychologically.

One bit was unridable with my 2:1 gear. The secong bit was just lack of legs. Really impressed with the Strava iPhone app, especially now I have the dame ride twice and can start to see where I was slower and faster. Even put the Heart Rate monitor on today, but tried not to look too much, but having had a look at the log now home I was ‘in the zone’ for 2 hours out of a 2 hour 45 minute ride.

Power Gone

Back on the bike today for a ride, decided to head out and do a familiar route but in reverse, getting a good technical descent but a long road climb. The plan was ambitious, my last big ride was the 18th December last year. As with these things, the ride started off okay, but within 30 minutes I was questioning the sense of an evening into night ride. In Manchester. In winter.

The first incline had me worried. I used to power up this sat in the saddle today it was hard work out of the saddle. Things did not improve. Of course there was a headwind, my brakes were probably binding a bit, tyre pressure wasn’t optimal and the ground was too sticky under tread. I was able to find plenty of excuses, but no real explanation for how my riding form had evaporated in the last year. Clearly power walking to work for 15 minutes each way every day is not a substitute for exercise that necessitates breaking a sweat.

In no short order the ride was eventful in that:

  • One drug deal going down out the boot of a Clio (Tesco bag of Cannabis being exchanged for a big wad of notes)
  • Two new components being tested SLX cranks and XTR pedals.
  • Three times I thought about turning around and going home early.
  • Four sections of santisied trails – thanks for ruining some great trails morons.
  • Five hundred metres of climbing and I felt every one.


Any way I used the Strava app for the iPhone for the first time. What a great bit of kit, no more Map my Ride messing about for me! Like garlic bread, this is the future. It even allows you to compare times against other riders on the same sections of trail. Ace.

So the aim is to now try and maintain a regular riding mentality and get back out on the trails more often. With my power gone, stamina and a mediocre level of trail skills seem to be the only assets I have left and I’m not too happy with that prospect. At least I am not totally destroyed tonight after a 3 hour ride and 46km.

The Rainy City

The weather recently has been horrendous. Either chucking it down with rain and hovering around 16 degrees C or being overcast, grey, miserable and humid as the temperature climbs into the 20s. This has been the pattern pretty much since we came back from holiday last weekend which wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the fact that it wasn’t much better there either.

Manchester Rain

The are several downsides to this. Not only is it depressing weather, but it makes life miserable on the bike as either you wet and cold or hot and wet. Clothing choice makes little difference either as not even the best shell layers can cope with humid conditions so you’re better off just getting wet and changing into dry gear at work or home. Not that this helps much if you have to walk around outside to get to and from meetings…

MCR Bike Polo

Rode the bike for a first time in a week today. It felt good to get some power down and the ‘cross bike is very capable in these wintery conditions. Still I had two near misses with numpties in cars on the way home that were completely pointless and achieved nothing other than a) getting the drivers two cars ahead in a stationary queue of traffic and in the second case, b) immediately hooted at by about half on Manchester for then trying to do a right turn across the oncoming traffic at a junction where right turns are prohibited. Nice one, losers.

On the way home from the hospital tonight I bumped into some of the guys from Manchester Bike Polo. They play down the road and no special bikes are required to have a go. Something for the New Year I think!