Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It seems so long since I have been on a decent ride I decided that I would take a Saturday off and head somewhere interesting. It was also a chance to find out if a recently diagnosed shoulder problem would cope with off-road.

Initially it was going to be Llandegla, but I allowed myself to be talked out of this on the basis of distance to drive time/fun ratio. So it came down to a toss up between Cannock and the Chilterns, the latter won on the basis of new ground/longer ride.

Santa had brought me a Rough Ride Guide to my beloved Chilterns and a loop from Nettlebed looked promising as it was described as a good winter choice. A sunny day made it seem more appealing.

I have always come back from the Chilterns with a smile on my face; it was not to be this time.

You will often see forum threads about GPS versus map & compass, if I needed convincing about the value of GPS this was the day, for when I switched my unit on the route had, due to operator error, not transferred properly and I was left with the A5 size map and written directions from the book to guide me. It soon became clear how this would affect the ride as I spent so much time having to look at the guide it completely stopped any flow, what a bummer :-(

The second blot was that many of the tracks were very muddy and churned up by horses – so I spent much time trying to find the driest line. Although in true Chiltern style there were some potentially brilliant downhill blasts, the navigation and “gloop” just took any fun out of it. In the end I called it a day and headed back to base by road.

This really confirmed the value of trail centres in Winter, a couple of laps of Cannock would have been far more fun and I think the longer drive to Llandegla could be justified for something predictable. Oh well, at least I have a taste of what it could be like in Summer and will no doubt return when the ground is drier, oh, and I will be checking my GPS more carefully before I leave home next time.

Great to be out on the 5-Spot, though, it coped well. There seemed no after effects to my shoulder, though fighting for control in some of the slime did cause a twinge or two.....

Weather, unseasonally warm, bright.

Posse, just me (Turner)

Mechanicals, None


Thursday, January 17, 2008

5 point 5

Checkout the grand master's recent work of art, a smashin' bit of casting which will shortly be gracing my tweaked Turner :thumbu

It definitely brightened up the snail mail today, thanx Uphilla.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Crash Vid's

It's so damp outside that I figure you'll need something indoors to entertain ya's - check out YourMTB's top 15 Crashes.

Number 5 get's my vote for giving his all trying to catch up.

Althought the lass in #8 comes a close 2nd.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Fundamentals DVD

This years January sales finally spurred me on to grab myself a copy of this DVD that peeps often rave about.

If like me you're 'alf expecting cheesy presentation with many a chuckle then this doesn't disappoint. I guess you've gotta keep telling yourself that these aren't seasoned presenters but damn fine riders.

Overall the content is pretty good and the rider footage assists the lack of verbal skills ;) To understand technique it's probably best used in conjunction with a decent book.

Stand out sections;
  • Suspension Setup, with Tim Flooks
  • Bike Repair, with many a useful build tip
If anyone would like a squiz then we'll pass it around...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cannock DH 30/12/07

Hey dudes.... just thought I'd drop by and show you what I've been up to...

I was debating Coed Llandegla or Cannock but after Alex bust his arm on Saturday on a timing run at Cannock*, I decided to go to Cannock and take him out the house for a day....

Some of the better photos below... needless to say, I was on it... even the Rave Racers were saying how fast I was....

Be warned large pics are, large!

Note: you can click on the big image when it loads and will bring you back to the blog!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Commencal Meta 5 Team VIP

Hey guys, remember me?! Last time you saw me was in Scotland moping around on either a spangly new Merlin Dual or a Trek Liquid 55 full susser right? Well, truth be told, I love my Liquid but over the years I've noticed the rest of you keep getting yourself tricked up with lighter, nimbler, fancier all-mountain rigs and I was feeling a bit left out on the old Trek. So I've been on the look-out for a sensible upgrade for quite some time - a replacement frame (since the kit on the Liquid is fairly high-spec and a lot of it quite new).

So over the past months I've had a casual search going on eBay to spot myself a new frame. A few options were on the books, one of which was a Commencal Meta 5 frame. Lo and behold, what popped up just before christmas but a sweet 2006 Meta 5 VIP frame, brand new, warrantied and to be cleared out of a shops stocklist prior to the new year and the new season's must-haves (a monocoque-style, single swing-arm instead of the braced version on this and previous models).

Surprised at winning the auction and snatching what I think is bargain of the year, I also chuckled when I recently got my lovely new Rock Shox Revelation 426 Air fork from our buddy in Montana, Chad, and didn't get hit for any import duty or VAT on it either! I love this fork, having one on the Merlin Dual. It's simple mechanics and basic feature list make for a good weight and a beautiful, plush, liquid action. A gorgeous fork, so I plumped for another one for the Liquid. Since the frame has shown up, it's going into the Commencal instead.

Most of the kit from the Trek has transplanted across, including the SRAM X9 gearkit, Shimano drivetrain, Hayes HFX Mag stoppers and the usual Bontrager finishing kit and my wheelset options. I put a new BB cups in while it was all apart, new cables and a new (shorter) Hope stem. In order to sell the old frame and fork complete, I'll put a new Hope headset into the Commencal and a new seatpost is needed due to the narrower diameter of the Commencal seat tube (27.2mm). That in turn meant another clamp - again, a matching Hope number.

One thing is for sure, the Commencal frame has a lovely build quality to it. Cable runs are on the underside of the down tube, and the frame has a no-frills makeup - simple and effective, and light-weight with it. Since this is last year's model it comes with an RP3 instead of the newer RP23, but we can't have it all I guess :-). The frame is painted with what looks a long-lasting, thick coat of off-white while the rear suspension frame is in black (possibly powder-coat). Sealed bearings in the rear and a nice chain strip on the right-hand leg finish off the French flair.

The front dérailleur needed changing for a top-mount XT item rather than the bottom-mount type I had before, which was unfortunate but hey-ho. Otherwise everything else has dropped on without need for change. She now needs testing in anger but a quick pedal around the garden has shown it to be much, much plusher than my old Trek and also a much more compact, comfortable geometry/cockpit too.

TV: Bike Squad

A new comedy drama with a two wheeled "slant" starts this evening on ITV1 @ 9pm.

"The show follows a group of "failed" police officers who are given a last chance as members of a two-wheeled beat..." *ahem* I daren't list anymore details for fear of upsetting some of our posse ;-) Who knows, perhaps "they're" in it.

Fingers crossed that it's entertaining.

More info over at Bikeradar.