Thursday, 23 October 2014

Late Night Repairs

Yesterday I learned some very important lessons. The plan was to swap the crankset on my commuter bike. After a bit of an exchange with the excellent customer service people at chain reaction cycles I had a new Alivio crankset, with a new Hollowtech II bottom bracket to fit.

The idea was to replace the old crankset which was looking and feeling a bit tired and broken.

It was one of those jobs that would have to go all in one go, especially as I needed the chainring bolts to fit the new crankset when I broke it down to just one chainring. This no-turning-back situation was confirmed as the plastic spacer for the old bottom bracket snapped and had to be hacksawed gently out. If this didn’t work I was pretty stuck now.

The real issue here was possibly the four pints I had drunk before starting this job, but apart from bleeding a little it went surprisingly well while I concentrated.

With everything off the bike I checked the internet and started to fit the newer style bottom bracket. This all went swimmingly and the cranks flew on as well. I had carefully placed the pedals the right way round as they came off the bike, but this would turn out to be a fatal error. Here was where the drunk part of the night kicked in.

It turned out I had turned the bike round several times and lost track of the right side for each one. I determinedly started to fit them, struggling to get them started, I eventually force one into the thread before realising that I had entirely cross-threaded it. I swore a lot and had a sit down. Then looked at the actual pedals to see which was which. I forced the cross-threaded one out and fitted it correctly, then tried the other one. Having slightly ruined the thread I found it couldn’t go in and I screwed it as far as I could before drunkenly resigning myself to having ruined it and hoping I could get it to work to ride at least to ride to work.

In the end the internet came to the rescue again as a forum suggested screwing the pedal into the wrong side of the crank to recut the thread.

Amazingly this worked and at only 1am the bike was back together and ready to ride. I'd only cut one hand, nearly ruined one crank arm and dropped the bike on my head once.

So there we have it. Form all the lessons the most important one might be to not engage in major bike surgery when drunk. Still, all’s well that ends well.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Just a quick summary today which can be universally known as a day of optimists as first of all Jon Tiernan-Locke is keen to return to professional cycling as soon as his 2-year doping ban is served. Now, he still argues that the abnormal results were due to a drinking binge, while other people point to his vastly different results while with Team Sky (when presumably he was clean to comply with their strict rules) compared to his performance before joining the team.

I guess I would be surprised to see him back at the level he looked like he was going to achieve.

In South American news a student has made another attempt at an unstealable bike, with a concept that splits the frame and uses it to lock to a fixed object.

I know this is a good idea and that it would make the bike hard to steal but these ideas never seem to gain much traction over traditional bikes that don’t come apart. Let’s see if we hear anything more about it at all?


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Quantocks and Style

I woke up on Sunday with tired legs but with the promise of a blast around the Quantocks with a local. An opportunity to ride the hidden trails and experience the blast of the excellent singletrack cut into the coombes was too good to miss just because my body was aching. The Quantocks aren’t well known outside the South West, as a quick survey of work confirmed, but have a very strong mountain bike scene and a network of lines ranging from the fun to the seriously challenging. Wet loam and roots made it a slippery experience, but no less fun. We blasted a few of the trails and then headed across the moors to drop fast into superb flowing singletrack along and down into a coomb that was almost too perfect as it threaded between the trees above a fast stream in a riot of green.

There climbs were handled on fireroads that dragged up, or on tough pulls up from the valley floor, ridable but hard they really pushed me to make the top and gave as much satisfaction (in a different way) from the thrilling drops.

We rolled back to the car and started the process of getting back to London.

If tales of my riding don’t do it for you, this might instead, if you like smooth stylish flowing smashing of trails:

On the other end of things, this:


Monday, 20 October 2014


If you thought we were way away from Christmas, then you would apparently be wrong as Argos already wants to sell you stuff. I’m including it because it’s nice to see that they want you to buy bikes and pull 180s.

Talking of tricks, some real pros are rocking it.

This is one way to ride a bike...

— Red Bull UK (@RedBullUK) October 17, 2014

Meanwhile I headed off to the South West to revisit some old trails. On Saturday it was time to hit a big hard ride on Exmoor, from Porlock, riding trails I’ve done before, in many cases in the other direction. Exmoor offers some tough challenges, some of which I could have worked round by not forgetting to pack inner tubes and having to head back to the car. It was a surprisingly hot and humid autumn day and the climbs were brutal from the start.

Exmoor puts up quite a challenge, with fun downhills interspersed with unridable combe climbs and huge powerful long drags up onto the highest point of the moor at Dunkery Beacon.

The rewards came in terms of wide open views and a sense of achievement, although not enough of the top-level singletrack that the route we were following had promised, with surprisingly large stretches of road. Six hours out on the moors and a pinch puncture each and we were back, wet and blown in the wind, but having had a real adventure of a day out on the bike.


Friday, 17 October 2014


So after yesterday’s mystery video was a BMX one, I can bring you another where I am fully aware of the content: Kris Kyle rips up a new skatepark.

Meanwhile over at Pinkbike a valid point is raised about mountain bike videos. I will do my best to address this imbalance towards riding that is too impressive by being consistently unimpressive in any films I make.

Finally today and for the week have a look at these structures, designed with bikes firmly in mind.

I’m off to ride some old favourites, see you on Monday.