Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Water Ice Ice baby!

Pipes bursting, roads back to black, water flowing, mercury above zero....but I should have known that there would still be some craziness out there.

I set off for with my Orange for a lap of Loch Garten returning via Slugan Pass and Glen More. This is normally a couple of hours easy pootle but today it took me 4+. All because of the water ice, ice baby! Wherever there had been a vehicle or lots of foot traffic, there was thick water ice.

Here's the Slugan....note the mini Christmas tree on my bars, a souvenir of one of my early ice slides into a tree :-)

And here's the climb, which I managed to clean, slowly. All credit for that goes to my super Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres. Full review to follow, but let's just say for now that these tyres have transformed my winter riding. There was a time I would never have ridden this stuff, now I look for the most solid frozen bits and just tell myself that the studs will grip, and they do (most of the time). Magic!

Lower down the forest everything was melting so I had another 10km of sugar to plough through back to the crazy holiday ness of Aviemore. Fun!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

-27 & still pedalling

The mercury is still dropping & I'm still pedalling. It hit a nosehair freezing minus 27 in Aviemore this morning, brrrr!

Here's how it's looking out there on my commute- isn't winter riding great?!

At this rate my trusty On-One will have disintegrated by the end of the winter (salt= much evil). Anybody want to buy me a Pugsley or a Mukluk? I'd give it a good home & lots of snowy exercise, honest :-)

Ride on & GoFar :-)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Bikepacking is coming of age!

A couple of great links on ultra-light bike packing.  Funny, it's what we've been doing here in the Cairngorms for years!!

Adventure cycling bike packing article.

Jill Homers Bikepacker blog 

Happy trails!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Revelate/epic designs

During our recent expedition I had the opportunity to use some of these bags to haul my gear.

The setup comprises of : Frame bag, this can be custom made to fit your frame size/shape also custom widths incase you've got wonky knees.
Handlebar harness , this bit is really cool as it carries the big bulky(but light) stuff. An extra option is a top pocket which sits on top of the harness, I found this really usefull for snacks, spare gloves head torch and all the other little things you want to hand.
Saddle Bag, this amazed me you can fit so much gear in there, I had pack towel, spare trousers (not lycra but full on trousers) spare base layer, spare mid layer, spare waterproof socks, woolly hat and my down jacket! The other great thing i discovered was it did get in the way while riding and I could still drop my seat a couple of inches for decending chunk.

Here's what i thought about them,

Pros: The bags i'm sure would survive some kind of explosion or maybe a bear attack, very well thought out design

They force you to consider what your taking as they are not the T.A.R.D.I.S this is great because how many times have you returned from an adventure not having used the 27 pairs of pants you packed?

Because of the design you have to play the jigsaw game when packing, but in turn this means you know exactly where you have pack your hip flask.

The bags themselves weigh the same as air so your not lugging extra weight like with a BOB trailer (9kg on its own)

The bags have a custom option so at the time off building you can choose to have this there or that here, and the frame bag will fit your frame perfectly which really helps to keep it safe and secure

You can use all of them or one or any combo depending on what your doing.

Riding your bike is still good fun.

Cons: They force you to consider what your taking as they are not the T.A.R.D.I.S

You spend a little more time breaking camp and repacking (opposed to a BoB)

You can't just unhook them and go riding like the BoB but they will come off easy..ish

you would struggle to carry lots of food and your gear

If you choose the custom option it will only fit that bike (frame bag) nb the bags i borrowed were designed for a surly karate monkey but they just so happened to fit bike like a glove.


I really liked using the bags and will be e-mithering Eric at Revelate designs for a set of my own soon. I think and would there reasonably priced and would last and with all the custom options you can really tailor them to your adventures.
The shear flexibility has to be mentioned too ,multi day fun or overnight bivvi the bags have an answer.

Check them out on his website clicky

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dreaming of summer

I spent the afternoon driving around, looking for enough snow to go and play on cross country skis. After aborting and deciding to go home and drink tea instead, I spent the drive home wishing I'd brought my bike instead. Summer seems a long way away just now but we are in that transition between snowy and clear trails, everything is a bit, well, manky. There is more snow on the way so the trails will remain hidden for a while to come, so here are a few photos to keep the backcountry bike love alive!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Summer Expedition Training

We've been trying to get this training course ticked off for a while now so we were happy to find out that it would be happening (not so happy that it would be happening at the end of November)

Now to our surprise the Mountain bike leaders association do NOT require you stay out overnight on your Expedition training module?

We soon addressed this and asked our trainer to sort it which he did (nice one Jules)
 So the day arrived and so did the weather, a good 'smattering' of snow about 5cm but that did not put us off, with us being 'radcore gnarly mountain men and women'
 We started day 1 with a quick look at some bits and bob's and then got down to packing our bicycles for the 'adventure' note at this point with got together and scanned in detail the weather forecast for the following 24-36 hours now the forecast was not good so we did what every radcore group of enthusiasts would do and ignored it and tried to find a better forecast from a different site.
 Now most of the team had opted for BOB trailers but i had manged to get my hands on a set of custom 'bikepacking' bags the picture up there ( more on these later with a mini review)
 With the forecast in mind 'in went my ski goggles' for the potential heavy snow and 60kph head winds on the return journey
 We set off just after lunch with everybody cycling around getting the 'feel' for there fully loaded bicycles an impromptu pump track session began and then quickly stopped when we remembered the 15km journey in the snow with loaded bicycles
 As usual the pace at the start was to quick and had everyone overheating and quickly getting rid of the full winter dress.
We quickly got the hang of loaded riding and soon found ourselves following the river feshie south towardsther head of the glen.

More soon.......

Sunday, 12 December 2010

"Bikepacking" This is the term given when you load your bicycle with the stuff that'll enable an adventure, now "adventure" as we all know is " journey with an unknown out come" and that's certainly what happened when we set off on a little bit of "summer expedition      training recently.

More pics to follow watch this space