Friday, 24 January 2014

Started training for something or other, don't know what yet.....

A ray of sunshine, that's a rare occurence at this time of year in Scotland!

In the next month or so this bit should be a blanket of snowdrops.

Halfway up the valley from the Howe.

Top of Maidens Cleugh descent and the climbing's nearly finished for this ride.

The Strathpuffer's been and gone and already this week I've managed over 70 off-road miles, I've decided it's back to the hard grind again of training, but at this moment in time I don't know what I'm training for. I've had a few suggestions and got a few things in mind but it'll have to be once the weather improves, which could be quite some time yet! 
The Mudhugger extension has been working a treat and while I thought I was the only one to think of extending it, there were quite a few extensions at the Strathpuffer, though the most of them were on 29rs, the actual Mudhugger for a 29r itself not yet in production till the end of January.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Strathpuffer 2014 experience

Base camp (or man-cave as it became known) for the event and Mad Max poses proudly in front of his mobile home while Baz appears pre-occupied with his mobile phone!!

Team Mad Max and The Pentland Puffers just before the start on Saturday morning with Mark kitted out and ready(?) for the Le Mans style start, though to be honest he admitted he never ran very far!

The crowd just before the start of the race

Neil, who was a member of our (deadly) rival team brought his brand spanking new and extremely clean and shiny Giant Trance 650B up to let it see the mud  and rocks but it declined to do any more than one lap for fear of cosmetic damage and he was forced to do the rest of the race on a friends Boardman hardtail!

It was down the left hand side of the cones to register every lap then back up the other side to start a new one.

Pitch black and there's music in the air down at the transition marquee

Last lap and Andy from the opposition and I had a leisurely ride round and stopped for a photograph with an old friend up at the top of the course!
The Strathpuffer 2014 has come and gone and all the training for freezing cold weather was in the end a bit pointless, I, in fact did my first lap in a short sleeve top with no gloves on as I got a bit carried away (nothing new there) with the first lap excitement! For the whole of the race it was more a choice of how little clothes to put on to avoid over heating, in my case at least, rather than avoiding frostbite! 
Once again a superbly organised event and fun and games, at least in our team, from start to finish, we will never be world beaters but the guys I was with certainly know how to have a good time. Thanks to all of them and the team of "Keep er Lit" (our deadly rivals) who made the weekend so good. By the way, we trounced them, thought I'd better mention that in case any of them read this!! Thanks guys.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Mudhugger extended........... to be given a real test at the Strathpuffer!

The Mudhugger in its original length.

The Mudhugger now with an additional 3 inches added.

I discovered that the Mudhugger fitted to my bike still allowed some dirt to stray onto my backside and worked out that it fitted lower down on my bike than it would on some others thus the tail of it wasn't really far enough back. Ever the would be inventor (but never very successful) I decided to experiment by gluing an extra 3 inches on to the end of it, riding a muddy mile and a half, removing the extension and riding another mile and a half. The difference was quite noticeable, whereas the extension kept me really clean the ride without it allowed some muck to spray my backside. Back home and the extension was glued back on with the addition of 6 small bolts (just to make sure the bugger didn't come off in a crash!). The ultimate test will be this weekend when I'm part of the Mad Max and the Pentland Puffers team taking part in the Strathpuffer 24 hour race just outside Strathpeffer in the far North of Scotland. Having done the race once before I know if there's anywhere that's going to guarantee mud it's going to be there!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Cold and icy, but at least the mud was frozen....

Daylight at last just up from the Howe

-4.4 C on the Garmin.....means bloody cold!

Downhill from here on, thank god, my rear brake had been binding all the ride.

Icy roads back down the side of the reservoirs to Flotterstone.

A 6am start and a cold one at that but probably the last big ride before the Strathpuffer next week-end. To make things interesting my rear brake stopped working and then decided to bind for all of the way round after it started working again. What with that and the fact that I went out on the ice spikers on the Trek today meant that this for me was a hard ride. Over 26.5 miles though and just short of 3000 feet of climbing in freezing conditions meant it was ideal preparation for next week.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Mudhugger test ride (in the muckiest conditions I could find)

Not the muddiest bit of the track but I'd stopped for the call of nature so decided to take a photo!

Now I'm into the muck and good quality muck at that, sticky wet clay and plenty of it!

A ride today to test the Mudhugger rear mudguard in the dirtiest conditions I could find up in the Pentlands and I wasn't disappointed. It blew a gale higher up and then chucked horizontal frozen rain at me as I came down the clartiest (i.e. muckiest) bit of track I could find. The Mudhugger performed really well, not interfering with the suspension and well out of the way when I went over the back of the seat. The only complaint I could make is that it could maybe have been just a little bit longer as I did get some dirt up my back but considering the conditions it did really well. Downside of today's ride was I discovered a suspension bearing had packed in when I got back home, that's typical in the week coming up to an event, but already there's parts been ordered, I seem to be keeping the bike business solvent on my own these days!! 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Is the "Mudhugger" the answer to a muddy backside?

The Mudhugger fixed on and ready for action.

With the winter weather in Scotland varying between wet and hellishly wet, avoiding a wet  mucky backside from the mud flung up from the back wheel is a never ending problem, made even harder when you're riding a full suspension bike and the back wheel can come into contact with the mudguard. The Mudhugger attempts to overcome this by being attached to the swingarms and moves with the suspension, keeping close to the tyre at all times. Anyways, I've bought one so here's hoping the bloody thing works or that'll be another waste of money! Tomorrow's the first test ride and there's plenty mud to try it out on..... 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Over the hills to Carlops

Mark arrives to begin the trip

We met two other bikers halfway up the valley from the Howe

A photo taken with the self timer high in the Pentlands (and bloody cold!)

The finish at Mark's house and a bit of bike hosing down.

Mark was just back from a skiing holiday and suffering from a heavy cold but insisted the pre-arranged ride over the Pentlands to his house at Carlops should go ahead. Baz couldn't manage but Clive was there to make up the numbers for the Strathpuffer training ride and in suitably cold wet weather we set off my house at 10am. At times we hit ice on the track and on one occasion Dougie nearly came off when a walker decided to walk straight over into his path. A hard slog up in the hills but we made it to Carlops bang on time and were rewarded with a terrific afternoon in Marks house. A great big thanks to Mark's wife Susan for welcoming us into her house after just returning from holiday and a good training ride into the bargain.