Thursday, June 28, 2007

Specialist Tool

Whilst I was on call last week (couldn't go too far far :( ) I decided to completely strip down my front bouncer to check the state of the compression/rebound/air cartridges. It didn't take long to pop off the lowers, drain the open bath oil before the compression and rebound assembles come out easily enough with standard tools. Depressing the shraeder valve I started to unwind the air cartridge with a 22mm spanner as Chipmunk came in to see how it was going. She'd no sooner got alongside when "BANG"! the cartridge fired itself across the work bench into the side of my toolbox :O Poor Chippy jumped so high I thought she'd paint the eve's whilst up there :p Anyhow, nothing was damaged although my partners heart rate took a while to calm down.

Cleaning and inspecting the exposed guts didn't reveal any nasty surprises, phew, so I started to reassemble when I hit problem#1. The IT (Manitou's air travel adjust system) was still installed in the left stanchion and if you looked up there a small 5mm tube was in the center. The air cartridge is fed into the stanchion and the IT rod should run up it's center. "Should" but didn't :( The teeny rod was off slightly center and no amount of fiddlin' and tweakin' could get the three components to align.

OK, I'll remove the IT unit...problem#2, which can't be removed with simple tools. Instead it needs a deep slotted socket to clear the gonzo cable feed. The appropriate gadget costs in the region of £40 :( Not willing to shell out such mula for such a low use item I identified a suitable socket, grabbed a grinder and 5mins later we had ourselves a specialist tool, for nowt :D 2mins later and the awkward lickle IT rod was removed.

With all the guts spilled I checked the condition of the seals, which didn't seem too bad at all. However, the service guide made a point of always replacing the "quad" seals associated with the IT system, so off I went for a t'interweb search. Problem#3 surfaced when my previously bookmarked spares pages didn't work and Google only showed spares in the USA. I even called TFTunedShox but Tim himself (not a fan of the IT system) didn't hold out any hope of acquiring spares due to the distributor and ownership changes with Manitou. Blast.

Oh well, I'd have to pop it all back and see if everything worked. With liberal amounts of MPrep lube, 7.5w suspension oil (compression/rebound), engine oil (open bath lube) and oil soaked foam rings the bouncer was back in one piece. 140psi was added equalising the IT chambers to get a consistent pressure and we were ready for a test ride. A short loop dicing with Chipmunk showed no obvious ill effects from my ham fistedness. Riding very nicely, plush with plenty of adjustment which may well have been down the oil level - 10mm too high and I've also used a heavier 7w instead of 5w. I did find the bouncer to be a little soft and checking the gauge confirmed a few psi loss. Closer inspection of the shrader valve showed it was bent and needed replacing, problem#4. Fixed with motor factors spares the Nixon was loaded with 140psi.

An overnight PSI check revealed a 20psi deficit and depressing the lever extended the fork back to full length - where I'd left the evening before :rolleyes The manual suggests that this negative creep is down to a defunct outer quad seal and spares are proving to be thin on the ground at the moment. A thread state side over on MTBR appears to have highlighted an suitable source of appropriate o-rings but the web page only lists bulk orders.

Chad has even phoned Manitou stateside for me but they're busy relocating between facilities so I either wait until the manufacturer is back online, source parts from elsewhere that may not fit or acquire another fork. Hmmm, I wonder...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

France 30th June - 14th July

Just a quick note to let you know, and to gloat, of course.
I am off to France on Friday, to spend two weeks in MTB heaven, for the 2nd year I'll be taking my trusty Gemini and hoping it's aging alloy bones wont break, and generally flying down mountains at warp speed. We will be staying in Morzine (near the Nyon lift), visiting tracks in Morzine, Les Gets and Switzerland.
After last years shenanigans with slEasy Jet, were are driving in Alex's Mondeo estate - crusie control for the win. With 3 of us going, 3 bikes, and a mobile workshop it's going to get intimate but when we get there the ability to drive to the shops outside of the resort will more than make up for it - hopefully it should make things a tad cheaper, too.

In other news, I have now moved house and job! Some of you may of heard of the "issue" I had with Nationwide, randomly ending my contract for no apparant reason.
I now work for a company called "Opus Energy" in there customer service/registrations team. Not exciting work but until things are more stable it will do!

Hopefully I'll see you all soon, but if not, at AFAN!!!

Laters gang. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ridgeway 2007

I hadn’t really noticed but apparently summer is here and we should all be out enjoying the splendid weather and our new rigs. Indeed, those were my very thoughts as it suddenly dawned on me that June 23rd was approaching fast and come what may it was time to stick to last years pledge and try and complete the Ridgeway in a day. On paper it appears to be very achievable. However, last years 2 day Ridgeway ride taught me that a number of factors including weather conditions, navigation time and re-fuel/R&R add a considerable amount of time to the journey. Consequently, those making the attempt this year agreed to start early and allow plenty of time. Six am was the agreed start from Ivinghoe Beacon and there were four in total. That’s myself (R2), Rob#1 and two of my pals Nick and Mark. In general we were looking forward to the ride but as the 23rd grew closer and Mother Nature continued to conspire against us with rainy day followed by rainy day our optimism began to slowly ‘drain away’. Eventually we agreed to give it a go and made provision to bail out should we succumb to the conditions. Here’s how the day panned out:

By 6.15am we were all ready and assembled on top of Ivinghoe Beacon. The weather was very overcast, a little misty with a slight but chilling wind. Wind direction from the west, into our faces. We set of slowly and almost immediately began to encounter mud and slippery chalk more reminiscent of winter than June. Nevertheless, we worked our way through it and set about scratching off Pitstone, Tring, Wiggington and Wendover.
By 8.30 we had reached the top of Combe Hill in Wendover. Trail and weather conditions had improved and we were all really enjoying the ride. Onwards to Chequers (no sign of Gordon) and Princes Risborough using the official Ridgeway riders route.

By 10.30 we were clear of Risborough and heading for Chinnor. We lost some time on route because we used the official Ridgeway rider route for the first time. A few ‘wrong turns’ and the odd tumble in thick mud delayed us somewhat. However, I’ve noted that in real summer condition this is a worthwhile trail to revisit.

As soon as we hit Chinnor we were greeted by clear sightings of the magnificent Chiltern Kites impressively soaring overhead with their huge wingspans. Unfortunately the trial conditions were not nearly as impressive and we struggled for some considerable time through thick mud and some very deep and wet 4x4 tracks. Not for the last time during the ride we were soon to resemble something akin to a Glastonbury mud bath reveller!

We eventually made Watlington and took 45 minute out for an essential fuel break and some of us shared a tube of Sudo cream (it’s a story for another day!)

From Watlington to Goring on the riders route looks relatively straightforward. However, through fatigue or possibly stupidity we struggled to stay ‘on route’ and a few tired leg hours later reached Goring (the mid point) at around 1.30pm!!
We were very aware that the conditions had delayed us considerably and that if we were to give ourselves any chance of completing the course then we only had time for a water stop and energy bar break. Morale was generally good but there was an undertone that perhaps, given the conditions, it just might not be possible. I was most concerned about the next climb. From Goring back onto the Ridgeway after approx 44 miles is a hurtful slog.

We made the slog and were almost jubilant as we observed the condition of the trail ahead. Hard packed clay, stone and so fast. Rejuvenated by this development we cracked on and made good time for mile after mile. Our new targets were water points where we could fill up and move on.

Rob#1 had decided that as this was his first attempt he would bail out at around 60 miles. This meant his pickup would be approx. 5 miles outside Wantage. He was focussed on this and we tucked in behind him (any slip steam will do!) and he dragged us along. Once again the trail deteriorated into thick mud and when we parted with Rob#1 at around 5.00pm, he was whacked and we were once again wondering if we had enough time to finish.
We struggled on and just as the trail improved again we were greeted with 2 very heavy rain episodes. I’ve never ridden in a chalk river before but one thing is for sure, my Nobby Nics don’t do traction on wet chalk. Soaking wet and bruised from falling off we soldered on at an increasingly slow pace.

We eventually reached Liddington at 8.00pm. 15 miles to go and darkness at around 9.30pm. Only 5mph required I here you say. Well yes, but Mark was in a bad way and the conditions ahead were unknown.

Well the best I can say is that the next 15 miles were character building! The track was crap. We either had to push or swim through deep water filed ruts. Mark was hanging in and all but broken by the 3 mile climb up to Barbury Castle but somehow we managed to keep going and eventually finished in half light at 9.40pm! Surreally we were greeted by Helen (my wife and driver for the day) and a Rastafarian hippy celebrating summer solstice by dancing around a campfire playing a saxophone against a background of blearing reggae music!!! What a day.
Thanks to:
Helen for driving, food, beer and a warm welcoming smile at the end!
Rob#1for great company and reciting war and peace on everything bike for 10 hours!
Nick for inspiring motivational drive!
Mark for hanging in there!

Weather/Conditions: 86 miles of water, mud, clay, saturated chalk, rain, rivers, giant puddles, stones and grass. Great views though!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cannock - Thursday 28th June

Thinking of giving myself a day off and heading up to Cannock next week. Promised to show a keen youngster from the Midlands the loop we did a while back - maybe with some extra bits.
If anyone else can take the day off please join us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dozer's Ridge Ride

Hi All,

Anyone fancy having a go at this ride (sort of planned last year), after work on Tuesday (26/6). The route is not quite as shown but close enough to give you an idea. Up and down the ridge to the North of Luton, you will have done bits before. We are doing the route while we have the long days, but we will still need to take lights as a precaution. If anyone gets tired we are never that far from base.

I'll try and plot the correct route with Farqs on Thursday.

Start point will be Dozers house 18.00

Watch out for the thorns :-), not been to bad this year, but I am slimed.

Posse: Dozer & Sicknote,
Possibbles: Darren & Farqui + Anyone else?
NB Date just changed from Wed to Tues (in case you looked earlier)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ridgeway Ahead

Just a quick note to remind you that this Saturday (23rd June) is R2's Ridgeway ride, running west-to-east.

If anyone would like to join in then please email R2 (or me) for further info.

Before my back snapped (it sure felt that way) I was keen to complete this legendary route (especially after attempt#1) but I doubt I'm strong enough to survive such an excursion just yet. So I'll be willing on anyone brave enough to tackle such a beast from the comfort of arm chair :p

Hopefully, the intrepid posse will publish their exploits once they're fully "radox'd".

Trailhead; Ivinghoe Beacon
Time; 6am
Posse; R2, + 2 pals, Rob

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hope Loop

Posted on behalf of Dozer...Early start for the Westoning posse, on the M1 for 6:30 (it were empty), arrived Hope station around 8:30, Chris and pals arrived shortly afterwards. Short spell reassembling bikes and working out how to switch on Farqui's GPS to record the route (Ta) and off by 9.00am.

The ladies were our rescue team if things went really, really bad and doing a short route around Hope but joined us on the first climb. Steady climb up to Hope Brink on the Bridleway, I was annoyed when I hit a rock and had to dab a foot down, if only I knew what was to come :D We then followed the roman road along the ridge and said goodbye to the ladies who headed off to the SW on their route. We got to our first decent which according to Farqui's Tracklog looked like a nice flowing decent, and turned out to be a 1 mile long ‘rock garden’ with jumps of the left side. With thoughts of Afan in my head and another 40 miles to go I went very slowly as the other 3 disappeared into the distance with whoops of joy. I walked several stretches, just getting back on the bike to see Chris round the corner with his camcorder (not looking forward to seeing that footage!).

The next section was a bit of a slog on the road up SnakePass to Doctors Gate culvert, but not too bad. We then headed off road again :D along a sort of bumpy ‘cobbled’ (not really) Roman road, quite hard to balance and steer so I made a few hasty adjustments to my rebound settings.

Chris then warned us the decent down into Glossop was a bit tricky at the top and he had been over the bars 3 times the last time he did the track (we had reports later on in the day of a few bad accidents on this section). So again the other 3 shot off as I walked sections. I got back on the bike a few times but with bogs (why did I laugh at Darren for wearing his ‘Seal Skins’) and some sections being un-rideable? lots of walking. The last stretch down into Glossop was easy and relaxing, where we stopped at a pub for a few pints, of orange squash :(

Now I had looked at the elevation of the route for the next section and knew we were in for a long steady climb (1,000 ft over about 10 miles). We followed the contour of the valley (south side) up out of Glossop on a mixture of small roads and the ‘Trans Pennine’ trail. We crossed on to the North side between Torside and Woodhead (Res) to allow us to do some gentle Bridleway sections.


We continued along the Longendale trail, which was more like what I had been expecting and assume this is what the Pennine Way Bridleway will be like, if not good look on the 100 mile ride :) We passed a few other mountain bikers scooting down on the opposite direction smiling. The track through Woodland Clough was boggy (see photo of Chris’ bike later) and much of the track was not rideable (happy to miss this section next time, what do I mean next time !). The decent along the ‘Snow Road’ looked good on paper but was actually 4 narrow ruts to choose from for 1 mile, Darren and Chris flew along, Dom and myself took it slower with lots of concentration.

Pub Stop – Pints of coke (caffeine) and bladder refills.

Getting warmer!

Chris had been warning us about the climb out of Cut Gate. The first section was a sort of man made rocky steps affair, which Darren did his best to clear but caught his front wheel on a rock and went flying over the bars (up-hill). This is where he managed to break his bar ends using his ribs, ouch! I was expecting a steep climb not loooooong and gentle, but the tricky technical climb was made hard/impossible by tired legs, with Darren and myself suffering now. Chris had an ugly looking spill (fortunatley he was OK) at about 2 mph, tumble to the side and didn’t manage to unclip in time trapping his leg under the frame (I almost had lots of very similar moments it has to be said, but just managing to unclip at the last millisecond). I found it very hard to even pick a line through the mixture of rocks and bog, never mind ride it! The track was being rebuilt in places, but it was hard to tell some times what was track and what was a lump of rocks dumped there ready to build track.

The decent to Howden Res was more fun, a few sections I walked because I was getting really tired and my judgment had gone. There was an almost paved section that was quick, but not sure the purists like Chris though it was the correct thing to have on the trail.

So something like 8 hours to do 32 miles! The last 12 miles round the edge of the reservoirs was a gentle ‘family’ track and mainly slightly downhill. It might have been boring but the scenery was good (hadn’t registered that much before) and it was a welcome relief and pushed our average speed up!

Chris had told us we had a small hill to climb on one of the back roads, so we could chill out. Now let this be a lesson on concentration, Chris managed to somehow go flying over the bars while trying to get out of the saddle, nasty looking crash with bad crazes and a bit of swelling, Dom just managed to avoid running over him by valiantly heading into the nettles :)

The ladies were waiting for us in the car park, with the deck chairs out and G&Ts (maybe not but they looked relaxed, good job the weather was nice).

9.5 hours start to finish. MBR and the rest of you, now that’s what I call a ‘Killer Loop’ (and we missed out a small section at the end).

Thoughts, regrets and thanks:

Thanks to the other 3 chaps for waiting for me at the bottom of the downhill sections.

Thanks to Chris for planning the route (I have now made a voodoo doll of him :)) and the excellent navigation through out the day.

Thanks to the ladies for being on rescue standby.

Regrets, I wish I had done more of the first downhill, looked the most enjoyable

Thoughts, I would miss out the Woodland Clough section if I was mad enough to do it again. Cut Gate would be worth having another go at by itself with a fresh pair of legs!

I got through 7 litres of fluid!

Mentally very tiring!

Cheers, Dozer

Route; 44.6miles, 6hr 45mins, 6.6mph average
Pic's; - to follow from Darren and Chris
Posse; Chekov (On-One h/tail), Darren (Canondale), Dom (Canondale h/tail lefty), Dozer (Endozer), Jenni (Cotic h/tail), Zena (Trek FuelEX)
Mechanicals; Darren bust a bar end
Weather; warm & dry, overcast with sunny spells, windless and humid

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bling Jockey Wheels

Within one of this months bike mags, I spotted some pimp looking alloy jockey wheels which shouldn't dissolve into ninja stars are quickly as our plastic OEM items.

They're made by KCNC and one of their UK outlets even claims these upgrades are cheaper than comparable high end kit, checkout Clee Cycles (who supplied the pic's). These pretty annodised replacements would appear to offer longevity and they even have optional ceramic bearings which should further improve their service life :thumbsu

They sure are pretty and I know of at least one rider that'd benefit from 'em, checkout our rigs at the next Knobblies bash... :p

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Peaks Loop June 9th

Hi All,

This coming Saturday Chekov is planning on attacking the peaks, in preparation for a full on Pennine Bridleway bash later in the year. It sounds like he's planning to take on some great sections, but as yet he's not passed on the route info. He suspects that his 40-50mile loop will take most of the day and that it'll be a belter, estimated route shown.

Start point will be either Edale or Hope, at around 8.30 to 9am.

If you'd like further details then you'll have to get inventive as Chekov's email is down...

Posse: Chekov & 1-2pals, Darren/Dozer, Jenni & pal and possibly Baggy/Roger

Unfortunately, my back is still too tender to attempt a day in the saddle, but rest assured I'll be thinking of ya ;)


Monday, June 04, 2007

7 Stanes Videos

Hello Dudes

I found this web page LINK full of 7 Stanes Videos, whilst browsing the MTB Britain Forum:

Dalbeattie - "The Slab"
Dalbeattie - "Log On Log Off"
Dalbeattie - Black graded log / rock section
Dalbeattie - "Eye of the Needle"
Dalbeattie - "The Terrible Twins"
Glentress - "Spooky Wood"
Ae - "Granny Green Luv"
Ae - "The Omega Man"

Plus many more

These riders make it look very very easy!