Coast 2 Coast

This weekend I’m off up north to ride the C2C cycle route – Whitehaven on the west coast to Tynemouth on the east coast. It’s about 150 miles and should take three days. This is my second time doing the route, although unlike last time we’re camping along the way and carrying all our gear on the bikes – tent, sleeping bags, stove, food, the lot. Fingers crossed for dry weather.

Updates along the way on Twitter (if I get mobile signal and the iPhone stays awake for that long) and more info and pictures on here next week I’d imagine.

Singlespeed


More bike news. I’ve had an old ’98 Specialized S-Works frame hanging in the garage for a while, along with a massive box of random bits and pieces, some old Rockshox, pedals, odd cranks and so on. On closer inspection, it turns out I pretty much had enough old parts to build the S-Works into a complete bike.

Minus the gears.

I can’t read a mountain bike magazine or website these days without coming across someone banging on about how great singlespeed bikes are and how it’s liberated them from the bloat of the modern mountain bike. Lightweight, low maintenance, cheap to run and fun to ride. Sounds good to me – Colin Chapman would be proud. So a couple of evenings later spent spannering in the garage and I have my first singlespeed bike. The only thing I had to buy was a cheap chain tensioner to take up some slack in the chain which cost about a tenner, otherwise it cost me pretty much nothing.
And the verdict? Brilliant! I went for a group ride at the weekend and had no problems whatsoever keeping up on the climbs. In fact if anything the 32/16 ratio forces you keep up a quicker pace than you might otherwise be riding with 27 gears. The bike is surprisingly light and solid – no chain slap or other rattles – and can be hooned about like a complete hooligan, especially with wide bars. Jumping over roots and other small trail obstacles is effortless and the lack of shifters gives the bars a nice uncluttered feel.
I shouldn’t imagine it’ll see as much action as the FSR or Inbred, but it’s a nice addition to the collection for when you fancy something a bit different.

On One – Inbred

I’ve been quite busy since the last entry here, mainly messing around with bikes in the garage. My trusty GT Zaskar LE of 14 years has now been dismantled and I’ve given the frame to my brother as his S-Works was a bit on the small side. To replace it, I picked up another frame – On One Inbred – to be built up as my commuting bike and hardtail MTB for when I fancy a change from the FSR.

It’s been a while (14 years in fact) since I’ve ridden a steel framed MTB and have gotten used to either the super stiff aluminium Zaskar which climbs well but shakes you to bits over fast rough stuff or the plush FSR which is fast and smooth but a bit of a slog uphill. The Inbred is a revelation! I’m not sure if it’s just my imagination but it seems to climb even quicker than the Zaskar and definitely way smoother over fast rough singletrack. The steeper head angle and low flat bars make for lightning, if not slighty twitchy, steering which is a nice alternative to the relatively slack and bouncy FSR with huge riser bars.

All in all I’m dead chuffed. It’s going to make a no nonsense commuter and an awesome little hardtail MTB for short blasts up the woods. If I can convince myself to do any more XC racing this year after last month’s DNF, it’ll make a great race bike too. And to top it off, I stuck some slicks on it on Sunday and entered my first triathlon, passing several lycra-clad guys on expensive looking road bikes.

Lisbon Half Marathon


Well, the first big event of the year is out of the way now. Last weekend was the Lisbon Half Marathon and it went surprisingly well. Managed to come in inside my two hour target (1hr59:03) which I was pleased with, but what was more pleasing was the fact that it was the first of the four half marathons I’ve run now where I’ve kept a consistent pace from start to finish. Apart from a slow start due to traffic (30,000 people), pretty much every km was within about 10 seconds of the target pace.

April is looking empty now, events-wise, then in May it’s back into it with the first of the adventure races and my first triathlon. Just ordered myself some road tyres for the MTB which should help me get a bit nearer to that target pace on the bike.

Here’s the Lisbon route…

New trainers


I braved the snow today and decided to go out for a run at lunchtime.The Lisbon half marathon is less than six weeks away and I’m massively behind with amount of running and mileage I wanted to be doing by this point.

Bought a couple of new pairs of trainers in the January sales, one of which were these Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultras. It makes me cringe running in less than perfect conditions with pristine white road running shoes, so these should come in handy this year with all the adventure races and off road running. First impressions are good. They fit very snugly with their interesting lacing system – instead of regular laces they’ve got a drawstring arrangement which tucks away neatly into into the tongue. Not only does it look really neat but you can put the shoes on and have them tightened perfectly in seconds. Getting them off is a breeze too, especially compared to untying tight lace knots on regular trainers with post-run frozen fingers. Size-wise they’re a touch on the narrow side, not too much of a problem for me really but worth considering if you have wider feet. The main thing that surprised me (other than being really bright red) was how light and comfortable they are to run in. I’ve put off getting specific trail running shoes for a while, worrying about all the extra weather protection making them heavy and cumbersome. Not so, these feel great, even on the road. Big thumbs up.

First ever blog post

Hmmm, let’s see. First ever blog post. I’ve set this up, mostly, to test out available blogging facilities with a view to setting up something similar as part of my role at work.

Expect to to find all sorts of drivel on here over the coming year, ranging from training notes for two half marathons, a triathlon and four adventure races, wedding plans, possible notes from our killer honeymoon round Oz and NZ and various bits and pieces testing blogging functionality for work.