XC Mountainbiking

XC Mountainbiking

Spring Time On The Home Trail

Birdsong, Sun breaking through the trees, and the leaves growing again. Spring. My favourtie time of year.

Singlespeed racing

Breathing hard. My face hides how much I love racing even on one gear!

Downhill Mountainbiking

Downhill Mountainbiking

Tour de France

Sunflowers on the Tour

XC Racing

World Cup Racing where the best fight it out over some of the most demanding terrain


Taking the sport to extremes

No matter what or how you ride, enjoy the trails out there.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Want It Wednesday #24- eXotic Carbon Rigid MTB Fork

With my new frame now bought it now time to add the other crucial part to the frame. The forks.  Now my aim is to build up this frame as a SS and with simplicity in mind I have opted to buy a carbon rigid fork. I come from a long history in MTBing and started back many years ago on a steel rigid frame and fork, something which never really hindered me then.  With all this bouncy stuff its easy to get a bit soft!  I'm also aiming to get this bike as close to the 19lbs mark as I can which will be super light for a MTB.

The amount of carbon forks out there was quite surprise as was their prices!  Some looked very nice like Niners forks with their curvy shapes and pretty graphics.  But I'm going to be spraying them anyway so graphics don't matter.  Some forks look like they have all come out from the same factory and vary little in weight but vary dramatically in price.  Usually from £250 to £400.

However I came across these forks at CarbonCycles. They look similar to the more expensive forks and similar weights.  Mmmm alarm bells.  Could it be that if you put a brand sticker on it it goes up a couple hundred bucks?  The eXotic carbon forks pictured below cost only £113.  Which is cheap!  They weigh 1.7lbs (0.79kg) with Alu steerer which is very light.

Obviously this seems to good to be true.  So I've checked into them.  Read reviews and tests and it appears that these are indeed the factory basis for many bigger name manufactures and are in fact sound and good quality forks.


So who else is taking part in WIW?

I Love My Brooks Saddle
Trainin' on a Prayer
Merry*Death on a Bike!

If you want to take part then please go and see my Want It Wednesday page and follow the instruction to join.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Celebration Time!!

I'm not going to say much on this right now as you all know the result, but God Damn what a great Tour! Well done Bradley, Cavendish, Froome and All those at Team Sky!!
So time for a beer or two

and to grow those sideburns......

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Happy Birthday Following The Chainline!

Well its a slightly belated birthday as I think the blog was created on the 16th, but it now over 1 year old. Yay!

The blog has certainly evolved from its first day in terms of looks but the core of it has remained the same. I made up my mind before starting this blog what I wanted.  I wanted to make friends and have a community of regular users to my blog.  Traffic has never been that important to me.  A load of strangers viewing my blog who never pass comment hardly matters.  Other bloggers who take time to read and comment does.  From this Want It Wednesday was born and has enjoyed a bit of success.  The blog continues to grow and there is plenty more to come from it.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those that have left comments and those that have continued to support my blog with whom without you it wouldn't work.  Big THANK YOU! :)

I hope to hear more from you in the future.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

New Frame - On-One Scandal 29er 2012

My new bike frame. This is the new Scandal frame made by the lovely people at On-One who had this to me on my doorstep within a day of ordering.

I went for the raw finish as you can probably see. The frame is different from  previous incarnations it now has a bent seat tube to allow better wheel clearance and now takes a 31.6mm seat post so is 'dropper' post compatible. It now has a tapered head tube so can use different fork set ups even a 'slackset' style headset so you play with head angles.  The writing (which due to poor picture, sorry) is laser etched onto the frame.

Weight wise its about 3.8lbs in its 16inch form but I'm yet to get that verified.

Really happy with it and can't wait to start getting it together. It's my first 29er so excited what this bike can do.  Got to get some carbon rigid forks next then they are off to get a painted.

Monday, 16 July 2012

North East Mtb XC League Round 2

Friday evening was race night for me.  Not often you'll see me write that but this year a new race series has popped up in my local area, The North East MTB XC league.  It really has sprung up from nowhere and its run by British Cycling and best of all most event are within half hour drive away and one round 200 metres from my door!  The events are small and fun events making them friendly.  I took my son with me to see the first round to find out what it was like and liked what I saw.  The races are super short and quick much more like cyclocross but its courses are more technical.

At Round 2, I made the decision to have a go myself.  I wasn't too sure what to expect from this race venue.  The last had been quite dry and fast, but this one was quite the opposite.  My friend Dan who had arrived before me, recommended wearing wellies at registration and so I was given my first incling as to what to expect.  There were a few more people at this race than the first one and there was a good relaxed vibe amongst people.  The course itself was partly on a field but a single track climb that left it was quite steep.  There then followed a meandering single track that went through the trees on the side of this hill.  In total the laps were about 5 or 6 minutes long.  I did say they were short!

This was the most relaxed I had felt at a race.  I had come here for no other reason than to enjoy myself. I'd done no training for short distance races like this so wasn't not expecting speed from my legs.  I also was on a singlespeed.

My first race on a SS.

I was also the only one on a SS

No pressure for me then.  I put myself near the back knowing that the first climb would be my bug bear.  Before I knew it we were off!  and not long after I was rasping for air.......ah yes I don't do this kind of speed normally.  Still no one was going past me so I knew I wasn't dead last which was a surprise in itself.  Then came the single track.  I spent most of this going sideways.  No joke.  It was seriously muddy and slippery.  The very steep climbs I had to shoulder the bike and run up them but as everyone else was doing the same I didn't feel so bad about being limited by my one gear.  One thing for sure this was no SS course.  People were running much lower gear ratio then I was. 

The racing was fast though and fun.  If anything I had the biggest smile out there.  Which is handy as I wasn't doing great but I actually didn't care. I never entered to win, I wanted to see how many geared guys I could take down.  My mate Dan was having issues with his new bike and his front brake was binding on.  He had to stop to take the rotor off but credit to him he battled on to finish it (Think his wife made him go on!)

The mud started to play its part on peoples bikes and SS made sense as others gears were clogging up.  The mud was thick and stick and shouldering my bike up the hills was just to hard as my bike had doubled in weight.  My tyres were so thick in mud that they no longer had any tread showing and made the descents that bit more tricky.

Anyway I finished feeling quite good and still beaming a big smile.  I'd joked with marshals and the guys timing on the line.  I'd even asked if I could claim first place in the non exist ant SS category.

It was very muddy but also a giggle.  I came 19th out of 28.  I came 1st in the SS cat........ok I made that last bit up as it doesn't exist (I may work on the organisers for one!)

Now to clean one muddy bike...............

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Child Labour

 What?!  They WANTED to do this and I'm not one to dampen their enthusiasm!  Good job they made too although I stopped them cleaning the chain as I thought that could get messy.  They seemed quite disapointed when I took over!

Shame that after their efforts they look like they both could do with a bath of their own.....oh well save on one job and create myself another!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Want It Wednesday #23 - Your Opinion on Bike Design!

It has officially been raining too much.  I know this not by my lack of miles in the saddle, but by my hours in front of the computer.  So far this week I have created my own team kit on http://www.owayo.com/cycling.htm which is good fun.  I'm a bit gutted that I can't show you all but maybe if I can find a kit designer that allows you to post places other facebook then I will.  (secretly want to start my own following the chainline global team made by bloggers for bloggers).

I stumbled on that site by mistake as I was really trying to get on bikecad. Bikecad for those who don't know is a design software for all you budding bike creators.  Well I'm not a creator but I did have purpose for using this site.  I am about to purchase a new fame.  An On-One Scandal which I wanted back in Want It Wednesday #19.  The frame I want comes in a factory raw finish so I thought this the perfect opportunity to paint it myself (with help!)  I have fallen in love with one particular paint scheme and that is a rich cream colour.  So far so good.  But then I'm torn and that is where my Want It Wednesday comes into it.  Yes I'm bending the rules here of WIW but its time to make the dreams real and I WANT your opinions. 

Below are two pictures done on bikecad, they are similar in most details but three. The top one the finishing kit, stem and seat post is in polished aluminium (Thomson) and the wheels are laced with silver spokes. The other picture shows the bike with black finishing kit. 

But which one do you think is better? It may only be a small point to some people but it can really change the overall look to this bike.

The forks are going to be rigid carbon in this case as I'm going for a sub 20lbs build but they will be the same colour as the frame.  The handlebars are also going to be the same colour.  If you think I am mad I thought I'd show you where my inspiration came from.

I've totally falling for this colour scheme but could it be made better by having polished silver finishing kit.  (The anodised red bits will also theme in the finished product)

So please I really want your opinions!!

Anyone else taking part in Want It Wednesday this week?  We have a new member!  Go check out Davids at Cycleofaddition and of course all the other regulars.  Thanks people :) 

If you want to join in then you can by going to my Want It Wednesday page.  All you have to do is write your blog on what you want and I'll add your name to this post.  Check back later and you can then see what other people have also been writing about. If you like then don't forget to leave comments on their blogs!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Jez & Betsy's Birthday Bash

Well yesterday was my Birthday and I was damned if I was going to spend 12 hours of it working so I got the day off.  Hours of time to myself calls for just one thing so with that I packed Betsy and my belongings into the car and took a trip to my favourite riding ground at Hamsterley Forest.

I didn't hold out much hope with weather.  It basically been the weather for slugs these last two months and they have taken over the cycle paths on my commute to work creating something of a slalom course. (have you ever removed dead slugs off your bike, bit grim!)  The weekend had been all good and dry despite the forecasters telling us otherwise.  Personally think they have just given up and now just tell us it'll rain as most of the time they will be right.  It was drizzling when I was sorting the car out but I wasn't going to let a little rain ruin my birthday ride.  As it turns out the rain stopped when I got to to my destination and remained dry for the rest of the day.

I love Hamsterley forest as it has some great single track and marked routes as well as more traditional roaming mountain biking across the moor lands that surround it.

I set out on the climb to Transmission, a flowing berm fest with bomb holes, jumps and launch points.  The climb is long and steep but at least varied and was a real test for my little legs on a singlespeed.  I got up no problems, it appears this mid thirties man is only old by number. 

This video gives an idea of what its like.  There are many tracks like this and I don't even consider this the best part.  I want to know what the guy is doing just walking up the hill at the beginning is all about.  Lazy Man!  I passed a couple of DH riders on my way to the next big climb dumping their gears to cope with the long climb to come.  As I passed the guy shouted that this was where I over took him.  Which I promptly did with a return of "yeah on a singlespeed to!"  He seemed a bit put out by that.  I made it to the top which wasn't easy.  Its a loose gully ridden climb with a good 10% gradient in places.  But I made it all the same and so had a little drink and snack rest.  As I was about to set off the guys finally got to the top having had to walk most of the way up the hill.  Smug mode.

That wasn't the only time I dropped people on climbs cross country riders included.  Needless to say I got many comments of people thinking me superfit or just plain mad.  No idea if any of these apply to me but I was probably sporting the bigger grin.

Despite all the rain the trails weren't that bad and the all weather tracks had been just that, which is a credit to the guys and gals of Hamsterley Trailblazers for their building skills and dedication.  They've created some great riding no matter what the weather throws at it and we've really had lots of rain.  One day we has our months rain in two hours.  I did just under three hours and was starting to feel the climbs more in my upper body than legs but I was happy with my day.

Had a lovely big meal out in the evening with the family and ate far to much so it was a good day.

On the plus side I woke up today ready for my commute to work feeling fresh.  My legs never hurt or felt stiff.  So I may be 35 but by all accounts I'm still 21.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bike Racing From My Sofa

Ah the Tour de France is back!  Three weeks of decent TV viewing.  Speedy roadies zooming through the beautiful french countryside.  Everyone who likes this race will have their favourite riders and teams they want to see do well and this year looks to be wide open.  Bradley Wiggins might be favourite but if I he has a bad race then it could be any ones.  More likely than not it'll come down to who ever does well in the mountains and time trial at the end of it all.

Our last year winner Cadel Evans has been a bit off form this season (maybe due to being a new dad) Alberto Contador is serving a little ban from eating dodgy beef(!) and Andy Schleck (he of goat like legs, poor time trialing and whinny, moaning bore) is out due to fractured pelvis.  Obviously, and very bias, I would like Wiggins in Yellow and Cavendish in Green.  Yep that would make a great tour, but I already have my doubts.

Well we are already three days gone and its been all good stuff so far.  Fabien Cancellera has been doing well winning the Yellow Jersey and then giving a great performance on a tricky finish on day two, one which saw some of the big named sprinters dropping off.  Day three and stage two saw a win from Mark Cavendish.  But he is not the same rider I've seen before.  He is certainly lacking the top speed in his attempt to become a more overall rider and I'm not sure whether this will serve him well or not.  He may climb better for it but will it win him back the Jeresey?  Where was his lead out train? An interview after the race showed a not very jubilant Cavendish give away a little what was going on.  Despite people talking about the team being split in two to aim for yellow and green it would appear this is not the case and instead the team is out for the all important yellow. I don't think Cav is happy no matter what he said, his body language said otherwise, but then he's used to having a team centred around him.  He knows it'll be a fight to get wins this Tour let alone green again. 

Anyway one more win and he's won 22 stages of the race and equals Lance Armstrongs record.

Stage 3 will 197km starting in France today at Orchies and finishing in Boulogne-sur-Mer.  The race is flat for some of the race but notably the last 60km are hilly with 3 and 4 cat climbs in it on narrow roads.  Not  necessarily a GC breaker but could start giving us an idea of riders form.

I've actually being enjoying getting to watch the UCI XCO Mountain Bike World Cup racing as well.  This weekend gone was round six at Windham in America.  The course was its usual classic form of one long climb with one long decent.  The track is dry, dusty and rocky, but was made further difficult by the really hot temperatures that are gripping part of America right now.  Glad to see this venue still on the calender despite the terrible hurricanes which devastated the town last year.

Two of the big names who have been dominating the race Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon weren't present sadly as they were staying back in Europe and concentrating on training for the Olympics.  (amazing how World Cup races become less important once the Olympics comes around.) The eventual winner was Barry Stander who won with little difficulty after World Champion Kulhavy dropped out on the second lap.

Big mentions in this race go to Todd Wells who finished forth with a storming race in which he clawed back minutes from mid way in the field to fourth place (only just missing third).  Gave the home crowd something to cheer for anyway, not bad for an old man!  I also loved that Adam Craig racing for Rabobank did it on a singlespeed and with added effect wore baggy shorts!  Loving the style Adam!    Interestingly Barry Sanders was the first rider to have won on a 29er this year.  Nino has been using a 650b and is becoming a bit of a pin up boy for the 650b revolution.  Will this impact see more top end racers changing wheels next year or will there sponsors still dominate what they should ride?

You can watch recoreded live coverage of all mens and womens rounds at http://uk.extreme.com/

Well I should do some racing myself soon.  A local Mtb event has started up and I had plans to take part but instead took my son to watch.  He loved it and wants to take part too so there is a race in our home town next month that I'm going to try and get him ready for as his off rod experience is a bit limited.  I don't really want to put him off but hopefully He'll just enjoy it for the fun of it as it's quite a relaxed family orientated race series (very low key!)  I'll have a go at the next round with no pressure on myself at all.  I've done no training for what is only an hour race and I'll be riding my singlespeed.  I'm just in it to have fun and see if I can't beat some geared riders around the way!  Oh and judging from the last race I'd be the only singlespeed racer in it......so could I claim first place in the my own made up category?