Friday, 22 June 2012

Lakes ride - latest

The ride has been cancelled due to the adverse weather. Check out the photo below - our mid-point stopover was in Boot.
Needless to say we are pretty disappointed as we have invested a lot in gear and we were excited at the prospect of a-not-quite adventure biking weekend.
Still, it will be rescheduled. This is a good thing as it will allow for more preparation.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lakes ride - prep 3

One of the items on the checklist for this weekend is "working bike". Put there by Sam, presumably as a piss take, but obviously essential.

For a couple of months now I've had some noise coming from the rear mech, which is SRAM X7. It hasn't really been shifting badly, except it would rarely drop into the highest gear unless my speed was up or a knock on the back wheel jolted the mech further along its travel.

I know its my fault, I should maintain it more regularly etc but it is 18 months old and has seen some miles.
The jockey wheels have small, pointy teeth, rather than the broad, flat-topped examples I looked at on the net last night. In the lowest gear the chain barely stays on the lower jockey wheel, instead slipping over the inside edge. The main problem I was having last night was setting the b-tension screw to give the correct chain gap between sprockets and top jockey wheel. The closest I could achieve was around 10-15 mm and adjusting the other way allowed me to drive a bus through through the gap. Looking at the mech installation instructions and comparing against my mech, it looks like there is a piece missing from the rotating collar where it attaches to the hanger. The hanger looks fine incidentally and the chain is the same length as the previous one.

I had the bike serviced at my LBS last October and had the problem of not dropping to the smallest sprocket since not long after that. My guess is the parallelogram spring has been stretched. I'm beginning to wonder if the missing piece was lost in the service as I did get a replacement hanger fitted.

Today I hope to get a half day holiday and take the mech to a shop and be able to compare the b-adjust set up. I think it may have to be a new mech as I doubt I can get spares for b-tension or new jockey wheels at such short notice.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lakes ride - prep 2

I know this is a late entry as the ride was 4 days ago, Saturday 16th June 2012. If you are reading this post in the week after it was posted, you should be able to see the route in the SportsTrackLive widget at the top of the front page of this blog. If it’s later than that, here is the link for the route.

It took in total 5 ½ hours to get around. This is quite a while to cover 24 miles, but it included several stops - one lasting 40 mins for lunch. Which was fun - more on that later. It was myself and Sam, plus Colin who has recently started to get into mountain biking.

On higher ground, the trails weren’t as bad. Saying that, some sections were terrible.

I have to say that the conditions were abysmal. Constant rain and wind were the bane of our lives, making the ground ridiculously boggy. On one section of the lead mining trail leading up to actual Bolt’s Law (the highest point), I came unstuck and flopped sideways. After righting the bike, water level stood above the bottom bracket. It seemed I’d hit dead centre of a submerged rut!

Another section leading up to the first short, technical climb of the day (after approx 30 mins) was like riding up a 200m freshwater stream. The ground was relatively hard-packed, with tangerine sized stones embedded in the clay. This is usually a nice gentle climb which allows momentum and cadence to be built before reaching the tricky bit. Except that day it was a full on 3” deep, purely clear, rain water stream pouring down the hill-side. At the top of the climb, Colin said he’d bitten off more than he could chew - with these conditions he was right. Plus the fact he didn’t have a waterproof jacket was a major hindrance!

The 40 minute-ish long break came when we stopped at the picnic area next to the river at the foot of Bale Hill. This was to test out Sam’s new Jetboil, which was purchased in time for the forthcoming Lakes trip. Alas we both forgot utensils, so I stirred my pasta pot with a tyre lever and ate it with a chain tool, whereas Sam managed to wolf down a beef casserole Wayfarer with a Park Tools saw-type tool. Despite over-filling the Jetboil, it performed magnificently and we now know we can survive out on the fells even if we forget our spoons.

I’m sure Crank Brothers would be pleased they knew their awesome chain tool doubles up as an emergency spoon.

All in all I was pleased we managed to complete the route. Col left after the 1st hour by joining the road at Blanchland back to Edmondbyers. It was seriously tough going so I doubt I’d have beaten my solo personal best of 3 hrs 46 mins. It’s a good indication of what we’re to expect on Saturday and Sunday over at the Lakes.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Lakes Prep 1

Last Friday afternoon Sam & I completed a 14 mile route around Hamsterley Forest. The idea was to get a few miles in and do a couple of fun trails too.

This is all because the weekend after next we'll be heading over to the Lakes and taking in 2 passes - Hardknott & Wrynose in 2 days. It should be approximately 20 ish miles per day of particularly challenging terrain. Climbing Hardknott is nearly a 1:3 incline! Plus all the technical descents will surely fatigue our arms and upper bodies.

As this will be the first time we've done anything quite like this, we'll be staying the night in a camping pod, so there will be pretty full packs on our backs too. Depending on the success of this trip, we aim to then get involved in a full-on adventure bike style ride; bivvy bag and tarp out in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday will see us riding Bolts Law again. There's a post on this blog already about that ride. Similar distance to the planned Lakes trip, similar terrain in places too.

Check back soon for an update on how that goes!

Find us on Google+