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:

Codeine brings relief

I’ve written a bit before here about how mountain biking is a lovely antidote to the routine of training for road and cyclocross racing.  It’s a busy life and with a lot to pack in (read:compromise), a direct consequence is that bike time is training or racing time.  I tend to ride criteriums in the summer but have had the nice distraction of a few summer ‘cross races this season.  Still, in many ways, it’s much the same deal. You have an hour or so to train, so it’s outside, 3-4 seconds of warm-up, then go “gggrrrrrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhh” (or something similar) for an hour, back home, in the shower, back to work / children / those other things.

So it is mountain biking that brings me my distraction and the highest pleasure-per-effort levels. No average speeds to chase, not much worry about headwinds, traffic, etc. There’s a great simplicity to it, and if you’re not in a rush, it brings some lovely warm rewards.

on one codeine 2So… when a good morning is put in the diary for a good ride and catch-up with close friend Matthew, I intend to make the most of it. If I’m going for leisure, relaxation and fun on the bike, then let’s do this properly. Step into the light, On One Codeine.

This leisure-centre of a bicycle is still in its prototype stage but built with “big stuff” in mind, it was always going to be a very fun ride at the rather mature but still fun Gisburn Forest bike trails. Many of the formerly great bits at Gisburn are a bit fatigued these days, and with trail centres’ tendencies to attract funding for new stuff (rather than unattractive maintenance of old stuff), the bumpy bits are a bit bumpier and rockier than you might like them.

With 29″ wheels and the gigantic, Smorgasbord tyres thicker than a circular Yorkie, 128mm of rear travel and about that up front, the Codeine was not going to struggle with any amount of gnarl that you wanted to throw at it. And if it did, you just drop the seatpost. I’m not an expert with full suspension bikes and have only ridden a couple, but it was obvious that this is a tank of a bike. Crashing it would be tricky, in a way. Its rather Brantish 31.8mm stem means that it flicks about much better than a 67° head angle bike should. All this fun / soft / bouncy stuff comes at a cost, of course, and climbing is for the patient. You stay in one position and the bike just goes uphill. It’s a bit like a ski lift. With all that traction going on, you don’t have to pick your line, but you’ll need to not be in any sort of rush. You can spend the time still going ‘wow’ from the previous descent.

No Production date is currently planned‘, so the one I was kindly lent by On One is going to illude you, for now, if you want one. But in the middle of a busy, racing, training life, Codeine brought me a remedy from an ailment I didn’t realise I had.

When it all goes wrong – an apology to my brother.

After more than 3 weeks of reflection, all I really know is that, sometimes, very small things happen that have very big consequences.

To set the scene, simply put, it’s a day of joy and fun.  I don’t get much time to spend in close quarters with my brother, Phil. Acting from my own selfishness and attempts to put that right, I’d planned a mini trip away, where we’d meet with my cousin, Adrian, for a rare treat of time together.  A few beers, an evening in a hotel, a decent breakfast, and a great bike ride. An amalgamation of simple pleasures combining to make a rare treat.

Man down.

When Phil fell from his bike and hit the ground, he hit it hard. Nobody knew what happened and nobody ever will.  He was concussed and his own memory of the incident does not exist.  Sandwiched between Adrian and I on an innocuous and pretty harmless part of the track at Llandegla, his fall wasn’t seen by either of us – out of our lines of vision. As such, we only have the consequences to dwell upon.  Phil’s fall  shattered his clavicle and broke two of his ribs.

The immediate few days after obviously brought him significant pain and discomfort, loss of sleep and probably a lot of anxiety from the loss of consciousness and feeling of vulnerability this presents. It’s the longer term consequences that are probably causing me as much distress as Phil at the moment. I feel I’ve been instrumental in a knock-back in Phil’s life.

Long term prognosis?

Whether Phil gets back on a mountain bike or tackles anything with some similar risk attached is probably the furthest thing from his mind now.  He faces eight weeks in a sling whilst his clavicle gets a chance to knit together helped by the titanium plate they have put in. That cuts across family holiday time, his work, his family time… a temporary but major disability.

Yes – Phil’s an adult and a very capable cyclist, but without my having the idea, we simply wouldn’t have been there.

If, for whatever reason, and however well justified, Phil decided in future to maybe not ride that race or make that trip, or not to ski, to run down a fell… all those little things that need confidence, then I will be whatever the next step up from regretful is.  That’s because these are the little things that define my own life.  The little extras around the edge of the life stuff. The bits that can make a day remarkable.

Broken Helmet

A broken helmet and torn clothing can be replaced. Bones generally do heal.  Even those rare chances to have fun with one’s brother and cousin can be rearranged and refactored into busy lives.  But I’m so worried that knocked-back that can-do confidence,

Yes, the impact on Anne an Phil’s children, and other inconveniences are immeasurable here and those things prey on me.


Phil, I’m just feeling sorry it turned bad.

Half full.

I’m not sure whether this is a half-empty or half full thing, but Phil, you’ve either been very lucky or very unlucky.  It could have gone so much worse and please let’s not dwell on that. On the other hand, it could have just been a great day out, and could have been finished by a great gig in Lancaster later that evening. Let’s just assume that you were lucky. That we were lucky.

You’ve spent some brief time sidelined from your busy life – and I know you’ve said that it’s been actually quite welcome, too. Small mercies.

I wish you a full and speedier recovery than anyone thinks is possible.

Scarface Claw

The last bike ride of my thirties

So this is the end of my thirties. Today. That’s it after today – tomorrow, I’m middle-aged. Hurrah! (well – did you think I’d be bothered??)

In more of an attempt to wangle a good day out than anything else, Matthew invited me to a day’s leave Mountain biking, well in advance of today (largely because of a technical glut of annual leave he had to take) so when the snow came back earlier this week, we both knew we were in for fun.

We met up in Holcombe at 9:15 this morning and what followed was one of those very memorable outdoor trips. I’ve been out in the snow a bit lately on the road bike, cross bike and even on the Mountain Bike, but have obviously avoided full on open fell riding – simply because there just hasn’t been the time (all the other rides could be done under the guise of ‘training’ or getting the children to school / nursury). Today’s ride was in the name of adventure and fun. It certainly lived up to that.

The fact that we covered a total of 18 miles in 3 hrs of riding sums it up really. What amounts to a good healthy walking pace on most summer days was a pretty full on MTB adventure round Holcombe and Entwhistle in what varied between hard-packed icy snow (at best) and foot deep snow-wading and bike carrying in the cold midwinter sunshine.

The ride was fun, and was topped off by a lovely few pints at the Shoulder of Mutton and a sarnie with chips, before a quick shower and then a chance to pick Lily up from school (on the trailer bike) and an hour or so of sledging, later on.

I hope my forties are this good. Stay tuned.

Mobile crappy photos below

MTB Ride: Mary Townley Loop

Had a lovely day today. My training rides these days tend to be not much more than an hour in length. This has its advantages – you can go out and totally hammer yourself for an hour or so and get all the training benefit; I really believe that if you want to be fit to race well you can gain little from pounding out the miles. Greg Lemond agreed too in an excellent article in one of last year’s ProCycling magazine articles.

However, training theories aside, there comes the odd day when you really just fancy a long ride on yer bike! Continue reading “MTB Ride: Mary Townley Loop”