learning to fly

Wait. What? How can the 2015 Chasing Mailboxes Errandonnee Challenge be over already??? And I was having such a good time, too!

Well, we started out with an entry in my favourite new category (You carried WHAT on your bike?!) so it seems only apt to end there too.

Errand #11: Cake delivery | Date: 15 March 2015 | Category: You carried WHAT on your bike?! | Miles: lots | Thing I noticed: People will eat cake, regardless of how smushed it is, providing it’s free. | Bonus: Carrying a baked good.

Yes, I said cake delivery. I ever-so-carefully placed the cakes in the box and secured them in my Carradice saddle bag… on my Surly Ogre MTB. And then I went mountain biking in the Pennines. You see, the cake delivery was to the people I was riding with and it just so happened the location of the delivery turned out to be several hours and many, many extremely rough miles up the Pennine Bridleway.

Before:errandonnee11 cakes beforeAfter:errandonnee11 cakes afterWhoa. Those cakes did NOT survive well. But that certainly didn’t stop my friends from digging in and eating the whole lot!

errandonnee12 emusErrand #12: Surlyfest with friends (other Surlys and friends not pictured) | Date: 15 March 2015 | Category: take your pick from social call / personal care / wild card | Miles: lots and lots | Thing I noticed: Epic scenery (and some random emus).

Originally, this ride was supposed to be the much anticipated and long overdue Trollfest #4 (and then there were four) but, in the end not a single one of us actually turned up on a Surly Troll!

I neglected to take any pictures of the collection but there were 2 Surly Karate Monkeys (both single speed), a single speed Surly Krampus, a Rohloff equipped Surly ECR and, of course, my Surly Ogre now in all its knobbly tyred off-road glory.

The wind was relentless and chilled us all to our cores as we rode through some of the best scenery the Pennines has to offer, finding new trails, rediscovering ancient packhorse trails and even inventing new trails through tussocks of grass and boggy marshes.

We took turns failing to crest impossible climbs and I had more than my fair share of close shaves as my rusty mountain biking skills were exposed on the technical descents.

My friend Matt and I unknowingly entered into a bizarre competition to see who could catch the most air off whatever piece of rock or whatever we could find as we hurtled downhill. I’d like to think I scored OK and by the end of the ride was even getting quite good at it but when I tell you Matt was carrying luggage on his ECR and was still catching bigger air than me, I think you’ll agree he deserves the prize!

What a way to round out a great challenge – can’t wait for the next one!errandonnee12 Surly Ogre

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life is a lemon (and i want my money back)

Well, for a moment there I was getting a bit worried that the 12 days of the 2015 Chasing Mailboxes Errandonnee Challenge was slipping away and I was running dangerously low on completed errands. And then one simple errand led to a massive five in one day and one more the following day. AND I’m one step closer to getting over not being allowed to have a Krampus (yet) (again).

errandonnee4 bike partsErrand #4: Picking up new shiny from the bike shop | Date: 10 March 2015 | Category: personal business (getting over the whole Krampus thing) | Miles: 12 | Thing I noticed: that doesn’t look like £80 worth of gear, but it is.

The new shiny in question was: 4 new tubes, a gear cable, some jockey wheels, a chain and 2 disc brake rotors. The plan being to convert my Surly Ogre from its current setup as foul weather commuter and dedicated coffeeneuring rig to a fully rigid, knobbly tyred, lightweight (as lightweight as Surlys get, anyway) 29er mountain bike.

Basically, convert it into the closest thing I can get to a Krampus with the meager budget I’m allowing myself to splurge on bikes at the moment.

errandonnee5 Surly Ogre MTBErrand #5: Surly Ogre MTB shakedown ride, part one | Date: 11 March 2015 | Category: wild card | Miles: 15 (combined for errands # 5 – 9) | Thing I noticed: I’m too fat to ride a 1×9 setup where 39:36 is the lowest gear ratio available to me.

Errand #6: Showing off the Ogre to my bike shop friends | Date: 11 March 2015 | Category: social call | Miles: 0 | Thing I noticed: The Ogre now weighs (only) ~17kg. There’s no picture because I’m sure you’re sick of seeing my bike at the shop!

Errand #7: Getting money out of the cashpoint so I could pay back the tenner I owed Karen | Date: 11 March 2015 | Category: non-store errand | Miles: 0 | Thing I noticed: I still can’t work a cashpoint with gloves on (I seem to remember noticing this last year too). There’s no picture because there was a queue of people behind me waiting to use the one working machine and I suspect they’d have beaten me if I stopped to take a photo.

errandonnee6 white spiritErrand #8: Buying some white spirit so I can clean paintbrushes and thin down the yacht varnish I’m using for the new garage door frame (how rock & roll is my life?) | Date: 11 March 2015 | Category: store | Miles: 0 | Thing I noticed: One does not simply walk into the store and just buy some white spirit – there must’ve been 20 different options! I went with the one that I felt struck the best balance between value for money and ability to fit in my Carradice saddle bag.

errandonnee7 lemonsErrand #9: Picking up some lemons for Karen to make Lemon Drizzle cake with | Date: 11 March 2015 | Category: store | Miles: 0 | Thing I noticed: People look at me like I’m crazy when I take pictures of lemons and, to quote my friend Tess, the white spirit and the lemons “is gonna make a helluva martini”.

Overall, the shakedown went well and all I really needed to do was adjust the angle of the handlebars slightly and think seriously about the gearing. I’d originally planned to put a standard MTB triple on the front but then I got to thinking about whether I really need a big ring and settled on a double with bash ring.

Then I thought: hang on a minute, I’ve already got a single ring with bash fitted to the Ogre… maybe I can just run that as a 1×9 with a 12:36 cassette. As it turns out though, the 39 tooth chainring I had on there (which I’d wrongly thought was 36 tooth) was just way too tall for the kind of riding I want to do and even on the flat I wasn’t using the high gears so a smaller chainring was in order.

After rummaging in the parts box, I found a 32 tooth middle ring on an old Shimano chainset so I threw that on and headed out for a quick spin to the shops. It’s a shame I’ve already used up my 2 store errands, but there you go.

Errand #10: Surly Ogre MTB shakedown ride, part deux | Date: 12 March 2015 | Category: personal care (because leaving the old gearing on there would’ve killed me). Miles: 1.5. Thing I noticed: the gearing was so high before because what I thought was a 36t chainring was *actually* a 39t chainring! This 32t ring is *much* more sensible.

errandonnee10 Surly Ogre Sturmey Archer Blackspire4 full days to go and only 2 more errands to complete! How are you getting on?

boss of me

It’s been a busy few months here at lifeinthecyclelane HQ with the various things that come with being a grown up (something I never signed up for, incidentally).

If you tuned in for my last post, just before chrimbo, you’ll recall I was childishly giggling over my plans to finally get my grubby hands on the Surly Krampus I’ve been longing after for ages. Unfortunately, being a grown up has ruined all those plans for the short term at least.

But hey, it’s not all bad news. It’s winter here which means it’s time once again for the annual Chasing Mailboxes Errandonnee Challenge! 12 errands by bike in 12 days with a total of (at least) 30 miles covered. The rules are slightly revised this year and there are even some new categories including my favourite: You carried WHAT on your bike?!

And what better place to start than there?

errandonnee1 chocolate cakeErrand #1: Dropping off an 8.5kg parcel | Date: 5 March 2015 | Category: You carried WHAT on your bike? | Miles: 7 | Thing I noticed: Some drivers are so stupid they’ll still drive directly at you, regardless of how big and ridiculous your bike setup is | Bonus: Carrying a baked good.

The chocolate cakes I took into work actually survived the journey completely unscathed but I didn’t get chance to take an ‘after’ picture because people started tucking into them as soon as I opened the box.

errandonnee1 Surly Troll BoB Yakerrandonnee2 shower gelErrand #2: Commute to the office | Date: 6 March 2015 | Category: Work or volunteering | Miles: 6 | Thing I noticed: It’s probably time to recycle all my used shower gel bottles.

Ever since I started work in my current office, I’ve just thrown every bottle of shower gel back into my locker when it’s empty. It’s a little odd, but it almost feels like a collection of sorts now so part of me is reluctant to drop them all in the recycling…

errandonnee3 Surly Troll Keep PedallingErrand #3: Popped out for a ride and swung by the bike shop to say hi | Date: 9 March 2015 | Category: Personal care (preventing myself from being a couch potato) | Miles: 15 | Thing I noticed: Overwhelming police presence due to some kind of political parade.

I’m off work this week (taking care of yet more grown up type things) but I found some time to escape for a quick ride and decided to swing by the bike shop whilst I was out. As is the way of things, I ended up ordering a bunch of new shiny but this still goes down as personal care because I originally set out just to ride, just to clear my head, just to hear the tyres on tarmac.

As I neared the city centre, I noticed an unusually large number of closed roads (even for Manchester) and an equally large number of police officers lining the streets. Soon enough I got caught behind a pair of officers on horseback creating a rolling (trotting?) roadblock on one of the busiest streets in town… they waved me by and I came face to face with another pair of horses as I pulled up outside the bike shop and 3 helicopters buzzed around overhead.

It turns out the English Defence League were marching / protesting / something and, I’m told, another parade / demonstration of some kind was also taking place. With a decidedly uncomfortable feeling descending, I decided to get out of there and let the police do what they do best.

On the way home, I saw at least 20 riot vans lined up…

errandonnee3 Surly Troll police vansSo, the 2015 Errandonnee is well underway and (political issues aside) I’m having a great time! As MG says “Hey winter, you’re not the boss of me”.