A failed mission to derail a chain.

1 x 10 gears. 1 x Ti 29er bike. 1 x happy rider.

This setup is proving totally bombproof.

Titus Fireline Evo TiI’m up to 120 miles of heavy winter / spring abuse of my Titus Fireline Evo Ti. I made a few personal adjustments – I’m impressionable, but at times I’m old school. I still like to clip in, am not a fan of the extra weight a dropper seatpost brings unless I was riding in the alps on a weekly basis. And the gears… let me tell you about the gears…

I tested the single rings on offer from Absolute Black in the autumn on the cross bike (video here) and was impressed. I was keen to try this out on gnarlier, rockier riding on the mountain bike. It stands to reason that the weight lost by shedding a front changer, cable and mech is a bonus, and it is basically a damn sight tidier and cleaner in that department, too. It’s rocky rather than claggy round here (a different problem to the ‘cross scene) so I was keen to see if the concept worked – without the clutch-style rear mech that SRAM insists upon.

All I can say is that the chain has not even hinted at derailing.

Loving the bike – a light, forgiving trail bike adorned with some very generous On One Smorgasbord / Chunky Monkey ‘all mountain tyres make it feel incredibly tough, but nimble.

More here:



Whilst the nation is grasped in the four-yearly passion for curling, it occurred to me that this rather fascinating and addictive niche sport may just be the way to get the sport I love – cyclocross – into the Winter Olympics for 2018.

There has been much debate about the potential for the IOC to open up the Winter Olympiad to sports normally practiced in winter (such as cyclocross) – as opposed to the current rule which is ‘sports normally practiced on snow or ice’ – but I think I may have found the way in that cyclocross has been looking for …


Lily’s Eleventh

Chocolate Fondue

Don’t get me started on the ‘they grow up quick’ thing. Lily, who was a babe in arms the day before yesterday, was eleven yesterday. Lovely quiet but perfectly formed day including

  • a day’s leave for me
  • bit of tolerable shopping for Converse for both girls
  • Ten pin bowling with Elsie and Lily
  • Lunch for us all at Pizza Express
  • Picking up Lexie and Leah, and a visit from Lucy to make too many children beginning with L party
  • Sausage & Mash and a Chocolate Fondue
  • Netball with gloves on because the ball was too hard for delicate girls

Video here and photos here


Lily’s Gone to the Dogs

Pesky Husky

It’s normal for a ten year old to have a bit of love for animals. Lily’s always been very enthusiastic about dogs, big cats, and horses in particular. They’re definitely her thing. You can feel the enthusiasm glowing from her when near animals, and it demonstrates itself quite a lot when you try and chat to her about them (and generally get corrected on your inaccuracies – quite disturbing at times)

For her Christmas present (2012!) her treat was to go on a husky ‘sledding’ trip. It was the end of May before we and the weather finally both got our acts together, and we went to a great place called Pesky Husky in Staintondale, just north of Scarborough. The sun shone for seemingly the first time all year, and the trip was just a delight.

Video here

We tagged along to the the trip, a couple of days over half-term staying in Hartlepool – where Katie was born and brought up. It was great to share some of her old memories and places, particularly in such lovely weather. A trip up Roseberry Topping, a morning at the beach in Saltburn, as well as a trip to Robin Hood’s bay and round Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool itself.

Photos here


Strava: The film

Strava KoM

I recently wrote about a love hate relationship with Strava. The app that bikes back doesn’t want to go away.

Some try to sue them, love, some hate, but it’s not quite like Marmite – as we all seem to love and hate it a little bit. A little bit like real racing, we love it when it goes well. We hate getting beaten.

But perhaps most significantly, it does seem to change the way the more competitive-minded of us go about our training rides. Even on a nice day. So the other week, I made a short film.

Can be watched in HD here.

When all goes to Plagne – A family ski holiday

The Haygarths were very lucky in 2012 and squeezed in a ski holiday into the New Year on top of two other lovely family breaks in Scotland and Sardinia.

Our first outing as a family onto the slopes has been talked about for years after a massive break from skiing for me (basically, since we had children…!) and finally we were prompted into action when friends Rach and Jon booked their holiday in La Plagne. A lot of the decisions (accommodation, dates) were made for us – we just had to decide if we could afford it and afford (me) the time off work. We did.

There are so many things to remember in any holiday – with young children especially – and I can honestly say every moment was cherished. With a minor thing like Christmas in the way, it felt a bit odd to say the least to do a bit of packing then get in the car and drive 920 miles to the middle of the Haute Savoie.

The journey was wearing but tolerable. A 10pm Eurotunnel crossing meant driving through the night on easy roads. The new Led Zeppelin CD VERY loud in my headphones meant the family slept and I drove the quiet autoroutes focused and entertained. The sun rose as we neared Lake Annecy and the final miles were pretty mind blowing (especially for someone who grew up on watching Stephen Roche!)

The resort, accommodation, weather and tuition were just perfect. Watching the girls learning to ski was much more simple than predicted – young people just learn without having to consciously do so. It’s fair to say that Lily was apprehensive about being a beginner at the age of ten when so many more experienced 4 year olds flow about our ankles on the first day, but after one lesson she was snow-ploughing and turning like she’d been at it for ages. Elsie was just a classic 4 year old on skis. You don’t need to teach her how to turn you just say ‘follow me’ and she can. It’s all quite surreal how it seems to be ‘in us’.

The girls had lessons and the ESF instructors (Vlad and Daniel) were just lovely. They nurtured and encouraged the girls so well and made us feel very secure. By the last day we were all skiing together pretty unhindered. When things got too steep, Elsie held on to my ski poles at my side and we pottered down pretty much anything.

The apartments were great and we had a swimming pool – meaning a lovely relax and play after a day on the slopes. We paid a bit more than we’d have normally done for such luxury but it was a welcome distraction for tired little bodies.


There’s some photos here and a video here – and embedded below

Cyclocross: All of the faff

It’s the National Championships at the weekend, and time to reflect as the season approaches its finale.

Cyclocross is a strange sport. It breeds and harbours obsessives. For a discipline that involves belting around muddy fields, there is an inordinate amount of fine-tuning, preparation and finesse… from the meticulously exact tyre pressures for the conditions in the correct tubulars with the correct tread, to the perfecting of the right line on the course recce at 8am in -2°C. The right clothes, the right food, just enough sleep, the right warm-up… the training, the bike fettling, and even the Dirt Bags to make sure we clean off properly after a play in the mud.

This short road movie is about all of the faff of cyclocross for team mate Alan Dorrington and I as we covered the northern half of England in the final three rounds of British Cycling’s National Trophy series.

Yeah, we raced, too. But that was just for a few minutes every fortnight.

On riding abroad (personal cyclist thoughts on a family Mediterranean holiday)

I need to qualify all this first … It’s about squeezing a bit of cycling into a family holiday for someone keen to be fit. Its not about trying to plan a cycling holiday or trip. The following includes references to on- and off-road cycling but this is all just done on the one bike and two sets of tyres I calculated the best to take with me… A cyclocross bike with road and off road tyres. Covering both bases. (or so I thought) Continue reading “On riding abroad (personal cyclist thoughts on a family Mediterranean holiday)”