Monday, June 25, 2007

Mountain Mayhem 2007 - Solo - Fixed - Scandal 29er

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After arriving on Thursday I can't say there was a great deal of race preparation that day, other than some carb loading in the form of a mediocre Chinese takeaway and some beers in the evening.

Friday, a few more of our friends arrived, some bike fettling and some bargain shopping at the bike stalls. Ann and Skye arrived late in the evening. No beer tonight.

8am I awake on Saturday. 6 hours to go to the start. The Scandal was mechanically ready for action. All I needed to do was to mount the dinotte lights, one to the bar, the other to the helmet. At 1pm the race briefing, then 45 minutes to get some suitable clothing on.

We're off. A Le Mans style 1/2 mile run to start, or walk for me and several others. No point sprinting when there is over 24 hours of cycling ahead. Once on our bikes the first lap was a steady affair, with bottlenecks a plenty. By the next lap we were all spread out a bit, so everything was rideable. Though I did find a couple of the climbs quite hard. I knew that I'd be pushing at least some of this course from now on. Gearing started out at 34:19, though after the 4th lap I pitted and swapped the 19 for a 20. More comfortable up the hills, and a little slower down.
The course was in the main on tracks across grass fields,through bracken, with a couple of sections through some trees. In the dry the course was technically undemanding.

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The previous week the weather forecast had been saying that the rains were going to come, and sure enough they did. The first rainfall was not particularly heavy, but quickly had a detrimental effect on the course, making certain sections very difficult to control the bikes direction. We had a few dry hours, in which the course dried out a bit. More rain, and heavier too, came in the night. New lines appeared, and 2 foot wide singletrack turned into 20 foot wide routes to avoid the worst of the slop. I lost count of the number of crashes I had in the mud.

The bike was a pleasure to ride throughout, though my tyre choice for the mud was not so good as the 2.3 Choirmasters clogged up with mud. After sunrise, I swapped these for some 30c (1.2") Michelin Mud tyres. They looked weird on the bike, but they cleared easily and provided better grip.

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16 laps

140.8 miles

18th male soloist / 102.

Pics courtesy of Jonathan Murray

Thanks to Ann, Jon for the photos, Stu and Dave for cleaning my bike in the early hours, plus everyone who cheered me on. And finally ta to Brant for the bike.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mountain Mayhem - We've arrived.

Tom and I are now camped at Eastnor. We've met up with Dave and Jon, and have secured a large area for the rest of the Delamere riders who'll be here tomorrow. Conditions under wheel are so far looking good.

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Phone

Tom spewed up last night all over my trousers. Obviously the trousers were quickly shoved into the washing machine. Unfortunatley my phone was in my trousers pocket.

Off to Argos today to buy a knew one.

This new one can post pics and text to my blog. Clever eh?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mountain Mayhem 2007 Soloist

Yesterday, long after the closing date for entries, I finally got confirmation that I have an entry for my first 24 hour mountain bike race for this year - Mountain Mayhem.

I was out of the country when the entries open, and this event always fills up quickly. Thankfully I got an early place on the reserve list and I'm in now, thanks too Ag and Chris.

As much as I'm looking forward to the riding, I'm also looking forward to meeting up with lots of pals I've not seen for a while. In fact, I reckon that is the best thing about these events, a place too meet and catch up, drink bombay sapphire and revel in the rain and mud.

Lighting for the night courtesy of 2 x 5watt Li-Ion Dinotte Lights , which worked well last year. Uber lightweight light units, and batteries that last 6 hours, slightly larger than a packet of Bryant and May.

Twinklydave was good enough to remind that should it rain we'd be needing lots of brake pads.

It'll be emotional.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ten Under the Ben Race On One Scandal

10 Under the Ben

Left Hayfield at 8:30 am on Friday for the long drive up to Fort William. I'd arranged to meet a fellow competitor, Don 'mid afternoon' for a ride around Saturday's "Ten under the Ben" race route. Traffic was slow, and I eventually arrived some 7 hours later. Don and his pals were ready to go, so within five minutes of arriving I had my bike out of the van, a few gels in my pocket, and we were riding down the first hill.

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The weather was hot, probably 23 degrees C, yet within minutes stream fed muddy puddles cooled my toes atleast. Firetrack followed, first flat, vaguely downhill, then the climbing began. The lightweight Scandal accelerated quickly up the first hill, riding out of the saddle from the start and leaving the geared chappies behind. It wasn't a race today, just the nature of the machine, one fixed gear that gives lets say a power band of 6-25 mph, and I couldn't resist opening the throttle just a little bit.

We regrouped at the top then ambled down the first hill. Pleasant singletrack leading onto a fireroad descent, some more up and down, then the steep hill, all but the last 5 metres rideable today. I now knew I had the wrong gear that is too small a rear sprocket. Whilst I was fairly effortlessly popping up the hills today, I knew that after 50 miles these hills would really hurt tomorrow. A swift fire road descent, a short climb, then the fun begins.

The first descent. All rocks, roots, tight loose bends, smooth berms, and oh yes the Scandal was in it's element. Weight just far enough back whilst on or hovering over the saddle, that a flick of the wrist lifted the front wheel over the larger rocky obstacles, while the 29er wheels rolled over the smaller. The short wheelbase made easy work of the tight switchbacks.

Soon after the second descent, and more of the same swoopy then tight bends, plus a couple of real technical bits that this bike with rigid carbon forks had no right getting through. Apart from river crossings and a section that was like riding along a wall made of boulders the rest was uneventful.

A bit of bike fettling on my return, but I could not find the 19t (to replace the 18T) sprocket, but swapped the rear Halo Choirmaster 29er for the Kenda Small Block 8, too allow a bit more drift, and save a touch of weight.

Race Day.

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I started towards the back of the field. It's good to pass people rather than be passed early in the race, it builds confidence. My race plan was to stop only to get water and food, no sitting down, and a target of 8 laps (80-90) miles.

Another good thing about riding from the back is you don't get involved in silly crashes. My camping neighbour and, fellow competitor Graham was knocked of by some racer wannabe on his first lap, sadly the end of his race.

The weather was crazy 25 Celsius and you could see Ben Nevis, I drank loads of water.

As each lap passed I was learning more about the bike. You could climb mid gradients seated with hands towards the centre of the bar in comfort, and obviously using another part of ones tiring leg muscles, maybe I learned this as I was overgeared.

An upside descending was becoming faster and faster, and more and more fun. Locking the rear and just drifting round the middle third of the corner, before stomping on the pedals and accelerating towards the next bend, no frame flex here. No one beat me down the technical descents.

The 5th lap, and tragedy struck. After exiting a bombhole, maybe a little too fast I landed on the back of the saddle, only for the front to head skywards. Mangled seatrails, and now looking like a BMX saddle, it either made me slide off the back of the saddle, or riding on the pedals.

Back at transition I swapped over to my full susser.

The Scandal prototype will be back to race another day.

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Scandal at the end.

I finshed 10th Vet with 8 laps, which I'm rather pleased with.

Thanks to Cameron and Graham for keeping my water bottle filled at the transitions.

Full results here

Sorry the pics aren't better but I was knackered

Thursday, June 07, 2007

New Bike

I've been looking forwards to getting my hands on this beauty since October.

It's a sample from

The geometry is altered compared to their standard Scandal 29er frame.

Basically moving the rider back in the cockpit. Result, it descends far better than the original geometry, and of course with it being a fixie, you don't have to worry about the front end getting light going up hills, as you're out of the saddle.

Had a quick blast last night up and down Coldwell Clough and it really is a joy to ride.

More later.....

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007 going going go......

Just checking one of my favourite biking sites, and Will has decided to call it a day on future updates.

I for one will miss it. Though Will's hubjub shop goes on. Oh goodie.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mary Townley Fixed Pt. 2

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What a tough day out. Up down up down up down, and with only one fixed gear.

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I managed to go the wrong way, ie. followed the wrong signs just befor "Summit", ended up nearly at Hollingworth lake before I realised my error. Can't say I needed the extra miles at this stage.

My new gloves caused me some pain, the worst of which can be seen below.

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Anyhow I rode much more than I thought with a gear of 39:18.

6:28 back.

Reckon well under 6 hours if I hadn't gone the wrong way.

Knackered, but I'll still be out on the bike tomorrow.

If I'm back next year it'll be with gears.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mary Townley Fixed Pt 1.

Tomorrow at 9am I shall be starting the Mary Townley Challenge 47 miles and 6300 feet of climbing, and apparently lots of gates. It'll probably be the last outing for my current mountain bike fixie. As I'll be collecting my new race steed from Brant at on Wednesday. This is the new frame before anodising, it'll be black when it arrives.

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Simon and Jase had a ride round it last weekend and declared it a hard day out.

We'll see eh?