Thursday, 5 December 2013

Ogre update

 A flying visit between returning from Nepal and jetting off for 8 months in South America. Service and add a new luggage option. Salsa Minimalist racks are for carrying up to 5k of extra stuff on the front or rear.
 They have a cupped deck and come with straps for securing your marmot with.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Jones on't moors

We took Tim for a ride on the Jones this morning. Looked super shiney till he got his mitts on it :o)
Set up single speed with a fat front courtesy of Surly Bikes it can be a bit challenging on the rolling bits of the South Pennine moors.

He's rocking a great beard at the moment so just needs the bike to complete the look!

Sylwia came along on her Mukluk too and provided entertainment to herself and others...

(our camera skills are too slow to capture evidence of either of these two with their bikes on top of them in the mud. So it never happened...)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Olive got a new coat

Didn't seem to slow her down much though....

Ruffwear Cloudchaser softshell for those wet days in the hills, or in this case on the beach.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bear Bones 200

Thought it was time to get the Surly ECR dirty and this past weekend was perfect. We put our names down for the Bear Bones 200 a bit ago and have been popping to mid-Wales to recce some of the route for a while now. The area around the Elan valley is laced with mile upon mile of deserted bridleways and firetracks.

Deserted that is until 60 participants descended on a field in the small village of Pennant near Newtown on Saturday morning. After a bit of faffing and admiring, poking and discussing each others bikes we were off. The fast boys hit the road like it was a sprint race, we were naturally a bit more relaxed. Most of our research of the route has been in foul weather or darkness so it felt pretty good to be cruising singletrack in daylight and in fine, warm weather.

Soon enough the cruising was over and we were pushing and grappling our bikes over semi-pathless moorland. We'd previously floundered on the totally pathless areas and chose to stick to the trail this time and look on as others took the wrong turns. Screaming down a fireroad to a cafe stop for coffee and fruit cake was perfect. Strictly 20 minutes later we were off again on the valley road to the Devil's Staircase. Shona had some fire in her belly as Stuart the organiser spurred her on with the news that she'd be only the fourth female to finish the event and if she got a wriggle on the first under 24 hours.

Soon it got dark as it does all too early this time of year and we were faced with the next 12 hours in a small pool of light. Sometimes in a pool of water but mostly it was light. We used SP dynamo hubs, Exposure Revo lights and Joysticks on our helmets for those slow moving moments. There were a few of those. On this terrain it doesn't matter whether you've got gears or not, you'll be off and pushing some of the time.

We passed the inviting turning for the bothy and sploshed our way through the river masquerading as a trail up towards Strata Florida. Some participants were in the pub as we went by and they looked oh-so-cosy.
We opted to push on up the hill towards Teifi Pools before the road turned to gravel and we were heading back towards the Elan valley again. Some of the faster ones had been here in the daylight but we were stumbling (almost) into big horny cattle laying in the trail in pitch darkness. Not a lot of light pollution in this part of Wales. Soon after this I was feeling the effects of being up and riding for 18 hours and needed a cat nap and some hot food. We found a little out of the way spot off the trail and rolled out the bivvy bags. An hour or so later we were back on our feet and tripping over a succession of less well concealed sleeping souls littering the trailside. We continued pushing up the hill towards an old Roman Fort before dropping down in the drizzle to a road section that took us North towards yet more mist and a little rain.

Once we were heading that way we were looking forward to the sunrise. It always lifts the spirits once the sun comes up. A few more snacks and a push up what seemed like a vertical hill at the time and we really were on the home straight. A bit of last minute confusion with uncooperative gates and we were soon screaming down a loose gravel descent through the woods to the finish and a very welcome cooked breakfast - all part of the deal.

We built up the ECR just in time for this event. I have to admit to a little concern as it came in at just around 30lbs. I worried unduly. The extra roll of those big tyres, comfort and bucket loads of traction more than made up for a couple of extra pounds. The difference those longer chainstays and lower bottom bracket made over the Krampus was really noticable when hooning downhill on loose bouldery surfaces. Stability helps overcome tiredness. We had also built a dynamo into the front wheel and that helped, no worries about running out of light power. Revelate and Wildcat luggage completed the bike and carried all we needed, more in fact. Turned out we'd taken too much food (or not eaten enough of what we carried) Next time we'll probably re-arrange so that snacks are easier to get at - maybe something on the bars will be easier than rummaging awkwardly in jersey pockets that are covered by a shell while trying not to crash.

Shona rode her single speed limited edition Salsa El Mariachi for the event. We fitted it with a new Whisky Parts Co No 9 thru axle 29er fork to hold a brand new SP QR15 dyno to power the front light, Exposure Revo again. That's a new fork to the UK - just 680g and wide enough to for a 3 inch tyre on a 50mm rim. Surly Rabbit Hole's or the upcoming Velocity Dually?

We finished off our breakfast by Eating Chocolate Reindeer of course. While basking in the glory of out little black badges...

Finally a big thank you to one of the UK's finest distribution companies. Ison Distribution really did pull out some stops to provide us with some UK firsts including the Surly ECR, Whisky forks and the QR15 SP dyno. These helped to make our ride fun and we owe them beer!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

rejuvinated Trucker

Have you and your bike already been around the world like this one?
You could look at all the chips and scuffs as souvenirs of those trips. However there may come a time when you'd like to start fresh. That's where we come in. Pick a RAL number and we can strip, clean, replace and make your old companion as good as new. That's one of the advantages of Surly too - decals are available for all their models for that finishing touch.
We can do this with new bikes too if your dreams don't match current stock.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Trail? What trail?

So there's this event in October that covers 200k over 24ish hours around mid Wales, South of Llanidloes. We got ourselves down for it so thought we'd go recce the route a bit. Glorious weather was forcast so we travelled relatively light. Bivvy roll up front and the rest spread around bikepacking style. A pair of Surly 1x1s again.

Bothy - hidden across a couple of river crossings if approached from the wrong side

Once we'd got half the route checked out we started to make it up as we rode along. Past a bothy we'd used a few years ago and up into the woods. 3k later on and we reached for the camera to take the top 'trail' picture. Wasn't there! We'd left it right in front of the bothy - cue a descent back to the camera waiting nestled in the grass. Much relief and a bushwacking run back to the bikes. We grunted back up the hill to take our pic - nice trail huh? This was a sign of what was to come - you'd think there'd be some sort of compulsion to keep rights of way open wouldn't you? Not here it seems.

Brooks Cambium - good for mountain bikes
 A bridleway gate appeared from out of the confusion and we exited the forest onto open moorland. So open that there is no actual trail where there should be or anywhere else for that matter. Cue 4 hours dragging, cursing and bruising dragging bikes across pathless and featureless landscape and it was dark. We found ourselves a small area of flatness and rolled out our sleeping bags - it sure felt small as my feet dangled over the edge...  Pasta and soup never tasted so good. We were also lower down than the previous night so warmer and that's probably the best night sleep we've had in a bivvy bag. Probably helped that we'd been out for 15 hours or so. Knackered.

off into the hills
Woke up to a midgy morning so packed up quick and early. We rolled down the hill past sleepy Elan and into Rhayader - surprisingly busy at 7 on a holiday Monday morning. It's great to find a well stocked corner shop when you're a bit peckish - better to find the coffee machine too!

A spin back on the road and into Hafren Forest finished off a kind of gruelling 36 hours or so. Back to hard little rides we haven't done for a while and should do more often.

If you plan to be out for one night take enough gas for 2.
One gear is enough, derailleurs are overrated.
Take more food than you think you'll need.
Take more tubes, you might pinch one when your installing it.
Bivvy bags are great. If you've ridden long you will sleep well.
Take a warm spare pair of gloves - you'll need them at 5.30am


Thursday, 18 July 2013

First of the new Fat bikes arrive- Surly Pugsley Ops

New graphics from Salsa on finishing kit

New Surly OD chainset and rings 36/22

Damn fat knobbly tyres
Canvas green with matching rims and Nates tyres

 Complete bike £1849

Standard Pugsley just £1599

Sunday, 7 July 2013

a quick bivvy

Time's sure short these days, trying to fit everything into a busy summer time.

This Saturday we sent the dog on hols for a night and grabbed a quick trip into the hills. A late afternoon train ride to 20 miles away then a circuitous route to a favourite bivvy spot.  Scorching hot evening and morning sandwiching a deliciously warm night.

Shona had her new Brooks Cambium to try out. On the face of it this one's ideally suited to the messier side of biking - no worries about getting leather wet and dirty. No bedding in either, comfortable from the off with a flexy but supportive shape. Once we've got some more miles in we'll report back, looking good so far!

Back in town for a 11 o'clock breakfast and that leaves the afternoon for chores. Nothing better than waking on a hillside at 5am in the blazing sunshine, gotta grab those moments when you can...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Two singlespeeds

This will be an interesting bike build - two Hope trials hubs laced up to Velocity Blunt SL's to start with.

Monday, 27 May 2013

1 x 1 x 2

Given the splendid weather outlook for the holiday weekend we cooked up a plan to make the most of it. Pulling a pair of  Surly 1x1's from the back of the bike cave we hopped on the train to Kirby Stephen. Plan was to pick up the Pennine Bridleway national trail and head south till we got close to home at Summit near Todmorden. The official train start runs from Ravenstonedale but as we got off the train in Kirby Stephen there's a good mostly off road link to join up at Pendragon Castle. From here the trail heads out onto the hills where there's an impressive stone monument where you can lean your bike for a bit in the evening sun.

After a bit of up, down and along we started to look for somewhere to roll out our bivvy rolls. It was a great view of the full moon just off the top of the Coal Road we'd seen on an Audax a few months ago -  really quite steep especially spinning our singlespeeds. One thing that hadn't improved was the temperature - we'd only taken daytime gloves and it was probably the highest point on the route. We've learnt and forgotten the 'take a spare pair of gloves' rule and probably won't again!

After 5 hours restless hiding in our bivvy bags we also decided we'd taken lightweight sleeping bags - another few hundred grammes of down would've been welcome so we got up and took our chilly hands off to the trail. 

The sun peeped over the hill and warmed us an hour or so later as we got out the stove for a coffee. 

Heading for Settle we had the trails to ourselves for a few hours.

We took time out for veggie chilli and coffees in Settle before pushing, literally, on to Long Preston. Some interesting route diversions followed around farm yards and field boundaries - with gates - lots and lots of gates...

More coffee in Gisburn, no time for singletrack today though. 
We'd originally conceived this trip over two days but early on we realised we were in possession of far too much time and not enough trail, anyway our hands had just warmed up. The decision was made to push on and finish up late. 

The conditions really couldn't have been better and if we'd thought about it a bit we probably could have carried on South past the turn off for home towards the Peak District but the draw of the clean bedsheets was too much!
We'd had a fair old ride on our singlespeeds and learnt a few lessons along the way.
We'd recommend this ride to anyone who likes gates. Lots of gates.

Kit List...

We rode - two Surly 1x1's, one old, one newer. Singlespeed (natch) - 32/18 & 32/19 for the weaker male. One with 650b wheels and the other with (so last year) 26" Fattish 2.25 mtb tyres.
(In the future we'll probably get these S & S coupled so that we can take them apart for travel and store them more easily in vehicles)

We carried gear in a mixture of Revelate and Wildcat seatpods, bar harnesses & framebag. Nothing on our backs or in pockets - bliss.

A couple of lightweight Deuter sleeping bags were nowhere near warm enough but that wasn't their fault. Our North Face Kilo bags would have been preferable but a pound heavier.

Morning coffee was taken care of by an MSR Pocket Rocket and a couple of Alpkit's Ti mugs - a Jetboil would have been quicker but bulkier. We could have done without either really.

A Garmin 800 GPS lasted longer than we thought it would for navigating with some off/on for powersaving. We only got the guide book out a couple of times for route checks. The route is well signed for the most part anyway.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Monday, 18 March 2013

Delightful Dales?- A Snowy Audax

So Sundays ride was a nice hilly 200 km Audax round the dales, the weather forecast on Saturday promised sunny intervals and light winds it was looking promising. However waking up 1.30am Sunday morning and looking outside it had been snowing- not so promising. 

We arrived at the start in Clitheroe and meet up with Amy ( on her nice new Kinesis for an early start at 7.30- and set off into sleet, rain and more sleet. We managed to make good time to Kettlewell for the first big climb of the day over Park Rash- this was where it started to get interesting, we probably got 3/4's of the way up before it became unrideable with snow covering the road, this being the point you remember road tyres and snow are not a good combination.  So everyone got off and pushed over the top for about a mile till we hit some landrover tracks and could gingerly start the descent to Middleham. 

Park Rash- it got worse after this...

After a quick hot choc to warm us up it was off over the tops past the rifle ranges at Leyburn into some sunshine and a nice crosswind, another fast descent took us to Fremmington where we had to stop at the Dales bike centre for a very good coffee and some much needed cake!
Fueled up we rode through Swaledale which is actually quite rolling! before another climb up and over to Nateby and a control stop at the Black Bull pub where the landlady feed us sandwiches- these were much needed as  we still had another 84km to go and had just turned into the wind. From Nateby we climbed out the valley and dropped onto the main Sedburgh road - before turning off to climb the Coal road which again  due to it's height was covered in snow. This was mostly rideable if you could manage to stay in the Landrover tracks and still had it in your legs, once over the top the road becomes a steep downhill with lots of twisty turny switchbacks that had us all stopping at the bottom trying to get some feeling back into our hands.
On the Coal Road.

 Another 'rolling' valley road soon popped us out on the Newby Head pass and from there it was a quick 50 km via Horton in Ribblesdale, Settle and some interesting back roads to the finish. 

A long days riding,11 hours though we managed 128 miles, 13,008ft of climbing and probably should have ate more. Big thanks to Amy as always for the company, the mindless chat (between panting up hills) and Haribo's when needed!