Mountain Bike Shenanigans

Facelift
April 13th, 2008

No riding this weekend for me. Formal Dinner and Ball on Saturday night meant I needed to be at home all day Saturday in case anything came up and most of Sunday was spent either sleeping or recovering from a night of excess including too many pints of Tim Taylor’s Landlord and some silly Alaskan Shots. I used most of my free time to apply a facelift to the Independent Fabrication Owners’ Club site over at ifrider.com. The number of publicly accessible bikes is now climbing towards 1,000, but there are already more than this available in the Members Only section known as the Clublounge.

The idea of the new look was to try and implement some form of magazine style. I looked at several different options and was most impressed by The Morning After theme by the Masterplan. That said none of the themes out there really worked well with the basis of the club design used for the major rebuild of the site that went live in September ’07. The core of this revision was borrowed from the MIT Creative Synthesis experimental theme, Recycled Canvas. The proprietary code used in Recycled Canvas caused a massive hit on the hosting server, so the controversial experimental functionality had to be turned off.

Still it presented a unique box-based layout option which was a nice way of displaying posts. So the latest spread keeps this element, uses a three column layout (with fixed widths) and rolls in some new layout elements too. I’m looking at a few other tweaks including customising how many posts are shown in different page types for which some neat plugins already exist and of course all this overlaps nicely with what’s being developed at work. An upgrade to WP2.5 is on the cards too, but there are a few other sites that will get this treatment first before it’s rolled completely.

Pacific
April 9th, 2008

It was cold last night (just above freezing I think) and only just 5ºC and wet this morning on the ride in. It’s April. This time last year some of us were enjoying dusty moorland trails and were slapping on the suntan lotion to avoid sunburn. The reason for this cool weather I’d argue is La Niña and we’re likely to have a fairly cool wet summer this year as a result.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) moderate La Niña conditions are present across the tropical Pacific Ocean. This is characterised by equatorial sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean remain below average from west of the Date Line eastward to 120ºW. Recent trends and simulation model forecasts indicate La Niña will continue for the next three months. After that there is some uncertainty as to what will happen next, but there’s a 50% chance that La Niña could continue well into the second half of the year.

So don’t dig out the summer wear just yet…

Progression
April 7th, 2008

Mountain biking is a sport that has progressed massively since it’s conception. Of course not all of us were there back in the day when the original repack riders were hammering around San Francisco’s surrounding mountains. In fact they’d just started racing mountain bikes the year I was born (check out Charlie Kelly’s site for more info). Yet even in the time I’ve been into the sport the changes have been significant. Look at this photo of Steve Peat from 1993:

Steve Peat in 2007

Photo from MBUK

Rigid Kona, early SPD pedals, helmet with about 9 vents in… My first mountain bike was being hammered around the trails on the hill behind my house in the late 1980s. I started racing and buying mountain bike magazines in about 1992 and the trends and technology were very different. I remember the first suspension forks – early Rock Shox and Manitou models being introduced. SPDs came along replacing clips and straps. There was a lot of skepticism towards many new technologies, but not half as much as the amount which followed early disc brakes and full suspension frames.

Still the big companies threw lots of money into R&D which progressed the designs and ideas. Eventually they began to convince people with light, expensive and strong components and designs that worked efficiently. The benefits became tangible. This is why these days Steve Peat is racing something very different and despite the debate between hardtails and full sussers still refusing to die, Peaty is undoubtedly riding a lot faster, getting bigger air and hammering the trails more aggressively than he used to.

Steve Peat in 2007

Photo from Dirt

Same Old Stuff
April 6th, 2008

I spent part of saturday working on the Harry Hall Elan. Whilst a fairly solid commuter over the last few years, I have toyed with the idea of singlespeeding the frame ever since I had it restored. This has been due to the fact that it was built with Campagnolo horizontal drop outs which have the advantage of plenty of adjustment to run such a setup without the need for any chain tensioner, keeping things clean and neat. So off with all the gears and on with a Gusset Singlespeed kit (thanks to Kelvin and Cy).

The drop bars and stem came off (due to relocate to a new home shortly) and were replaced with a 130mm Thomson and a pair of Azonic double wall flat bars chopped down to 20.5″ and fitted out with some Deore levers and a pair of lock-on grips that were floating around in the spares box. The flat bar, singlespeed  result is something that looks a lot more interesting than it did. Based on the absence of any gear changes on my Mancunian commute I’m confident that its 50:16 setup will be do-able, but we’ll have to wait until Monday to find out.

Rode with Tyrrell for the first time this year today. Armed with Singlespeeds we rode out to test his legs. Not knowing how far would be too far we kept it a fairly open route and in the end after crossing the Goyt and the dirt jumps, decided to head for home. Essentially this was a repeat of route 28, but a plan has been hatched to do a ride to Edale from home which I haven’t done in a couple of years, so I think that’s next.

Eiger Sanction Photos
April 3rd, 2008

I’ve posted a further selection photos from the inaugural Eiger Sanction trip up in the photo section powered by Flickr. They remind me what a cracking trip it was! Can’t wait to get back out to the Alps for the next big ride.

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