hey jealousy

 

* grumble grumble mutter mutter grumble grumble *

Oh, hi there. And happy Thursday to you all. Let us celebrate it almost being the weekend with a long overdue edition of Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!

And, whilst we’re at it, I reckon we should also break out:

∞ What I’ve been reading Wednesday ∞
(or whatever day it happens to be when I’m posting this)

* mutter grumble mutter grumble *

Recently, in the little spare time I’ve had, I’ve mostly been reading some of my favourite blogs and vicariously riding alongside them as they enjoy their summer tours in various spectacular corners of the world.

Me? I’m stuck here in Manchester, England trying to enjoy as much of the nice weather as my list of chores will allow.

But, I’m not bitter. Not bitter at all.

* grumble grumble mutter mutter *

So anyway, if you’re also into living vicariously, you could do a lot worse than join the Northern Walker and his Surly Troll braving the wind and ring roads in Iceland (normally found braving the wind and ring roads in Manchester) – first post here.

Or perhaps you might want to go Chasing Mailboxes on the back of a CoMotion Tandem in Colorado (they’re normally found in Washington D.C.) – first post here.

This week’s Google-mongers have been searching for (amongst other things):

  • Surly Troll touring
  • Trans Pennine Trail 3 days
  • Can you cycle round Torside reservoir?
  • Upper Don Trail
  • Trans Pennine Trail Hadfield
  • Cycling on Woodhead Pass

All of which has got me all nostalgic thinking about my very own mini tour when I took a couple days off work and headed off in search of adventure; you can read all about that here.

Oh, I almost forgot! My favourite search term this week was…

“Tips for cycling over Woodhead Pass”

…so today’s lifeinthecyclelane top tip is…

“Don’t be a lettuce.”

382439_10150987700594863_1890794359_n

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something inside so strong

 

Whilst I was away, suffering from a bad case of real life syndrome and, more recently, a horrible respiratory infection, I had quite literally millio… no, thousan… hundre… OK, so I had one person contact me demanding an update to my blog. Clearly, over a month without a new instalment of Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia! was just too much to bear.

You may even recall me promising a special month long special edition… and, here it is! Please, try to control your excitement.

 

You asked for it, I promised to do it.

You asked for it again, I promised to do it again.

You kept asking for it, I kept promising to do it.

At some time in the last month, you asked for it yet again; so, without further ado, by popular demand, you-kept-asking-for-it-so-I’m-finally-doing-it… yes, yes, it’s finally time for a “Keep Pedalling wheel build review”.

32421_10151271550494863_43233265_nYou may recall I originally built my Surly Troll with an old Sun Rims Ditch Witch wheelset I had lying around the garage. Super wide disc specific rims with a matt black finish, I loved them and I quite literally rode them into the ground; relenting only when the hubs were making so much noise I was worried I wouldn’t make it all the way home (hence the boxes of brand new shiny in my trailer).

206696_10151327132799863_2024200714_nHere’s the finished article being used in anger atop the Hill of Death. For the wheel building nerds out there, here are the specs:

Halo Aerowarrior 26″ disc specific rims in white, Shimano Deore XT 36 hole quick release 6 bolt disc hubs in black and regular, bust-one-and-you-can-get-it-fixed-just-about-anywhere round stainless steel spokes in silver; none of your fancy black bladed [read expensive and almost never in stock] spokes here.

Of course, these wheels were hand built by Rich at Keep Pedalling in Manchester. Interestingly enough, he was actually recommending a cheaper, more sensible, touring bike rim but hey, what’s rock ‘n’ roll about that? So, I splurged the extra cash and went with the Halos.

They’ve been on the bike now for a little over 6 months and have done somewhere between 2000 and 3000 miles (I really haven’t been keeping count) on road, off road, through rain, snow, mud, sand… you name it.

The XT hubs are super smooth and super quiet and will be treated to a service in another 6 months’ time. The rims are as perfectly straight as the day I picked them up and, despite the daily abuse I give the bike, I’m yet to break a single spoke (of course, I fully expect to break several tomorrow now I’ve jinxed it!).

So, how do I rate the quality of Keep Pedalling’s wheel building service? Well, I’m currently saving up to have another one done. What does that tell you?

Oh, I almost forgot! My favourite search term from the last month? Well, it just has to be:

“Olive at Keep Pedalling”

Olive

alive and kicking

 

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

That said, I would like to apologise to the loyal followers of lifeinthecyclelane for the unprecedented break in service. I’d like to say this has been due to the fact I’ve been spending every free moment out on my bike… I’d like to say a lot of things. Truth be told, pesky real life has been rather getting in the way of things recently.

But, it’s not been all housework, chores, family visits, driving lessons and farmers’ markets (don’t ask)… There have been quite a few exciting cycling related developments over here at lifeinthecyclelane HQ of late and, real life permitting, whatever passes for normal service around here will soon resume.

If you think you can control yourselves, just consider these uber exciting upcoming posts / features:

  • The dubiously welcome return of ‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’ with, seeing as I’ve been AWOL for about a month, a special one-off month long special. I know, right?
  • A few gems from the ‘What I’ve been reading Wednesdays (or whatever day it happens to be when I’m writing this)’ archives. I’m somewhat behind in keeping up with the blogs I read, let alone the one I write!
  • pink – I’m particularly looking forward to this one; not only do we get to listen to Aerosmith but you get to read all about one of my latest custom bike builds. Readers of a nervous disposition should consult a medical expert before tuning in.
  • paint it black – I think officially the first appearance by the mighty (and wrinkly) Rolling Stones; this’ll be one for all the Surly Troll owners, anyone looking for a 60mm wide full wrap mudguard, anyone who’s ever rattled their SKS Commuters to bits at 30mph on an old railway bed and just about anyone else who reads the post by accident.
  • basket case – A nice bit of Green Day, of course and the story of one girl’s bike that has spent more of its life in the workstand than on the trails.
  • broken down – The obligatory lifeinthecyclelane grunge accompaniment to my disturbingly literal blow by blow account of how [not] to fit Froggleg cantilever brakes, brought to you by the rather angry and rather brilliant JJ72.
  • simple man – Now, as a rule, I don’t think cover versions of songs are a good thing but in this case, I’m afraid the Shinedown version is just SO much better than the Lynyrd Skynyrd one. Anyway, we shall be asking some of life’s most important questions:
    • What happens when your favourite bike shop has a 2nd birthday celebration?
    • What would a Krampus cake look / taste like?
    • Vegan pizza, really?
    • Is Corona better with or without lime?
    • What’s it like to have the guys from Surly tell you they were checking out your Troll? Yes, you did read that part right.

21195_10151608679519863_755683448_nStick around kids, it’s gonna be good.

Right now, this is where I’m headed:

(Karen’s out for the night and so am I!)

pour some sugar on me

I love it when a post comes together.

This week’s foray into the murky world of ‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’ is quite literally a little bit interesting… It’s almost as though the search engine gods had some kind of master plan when they gave us such gems as:

“schwalbe kojak brompton pressure”

and

“bob yak lowrider”

Regular visitors will of course be familiar with me and my Yak and the nightmares fun we have together.

31696_433159445659_539585659_6272016_296285_nIrregular visitors [see what I did there?] may even be familiar with the saga of the wheel… you see, all that time ago when I spent all that money on all that trailer I was thoroughly disappointed to find the stock wheel & tyre supplied with my BOB Yak had clearly been pinched from the nearest kid’s bike and thrown in my box.

A lot of time, a heap of internet research and more visits to various bike shops than even I think was appropriate and I was all kinds of familiar with the different versions of 16″ wheels and 16″ tyres, none, NONE of which are interchangeable.

Originally, I bought a stock Brompton front wheel and a 349c 16″ Schwalbe Kojak slick tyre (tyre pressure is between 60ish and 120ish, as I recall) but it turned out the axle length on Brompton wheels is considerably narrower than the 100mm (standard front axle) width the Yak required; so, replacement wheel #1 was promptly sold.

150030_465165489862_6224409_nReplacement wheel #2 was a 305c 16″ lowrider wheel complete with 16 x 1.75″ white wall tyre; essentially the same wheel & tyre size as the original but with extra bling bling, 17 million spokes and a couple of extra pounds weight. Cool eh?

Cool, heavy and blinging aside, that wheel really isn’t much better than the stock kid’s bike one I started with and, although the tyre would accept a little more pressure (and therefore drag less on the road), it really wasn’t the solution I was looking for.

270547_10150255310509863_784234862_7043533_3617116_nCue replacement wheel #3: a custom built 349c Brompton rim laced to a standard 100mm wide quick release road hub, all wrapped in a brand new 16 x 1″ Schwalbe Kojak tyre – sweet. I can run this with high or low pressure (dependent on how much weight I have in the trailer), it’s super light, nice and strong, the tyre’s super sticky and it comes with awesome puncture protection and reflective tyre labels.

It’s amazing the difference it makes to the feel and handling of the trailer. In those bad old early days with the crappy original, I remember dragging the damned thing up and down hideous climbs and I distinctly remember the crappy tyre buzzing on the tarmac, sidewalls pathetically flexing under load and generally ruining my life.

These days, I fit the trailer to the back of the bike and just forget it’s there! No matter how much weight I have in it, the larger rolling diameter, slick tread, higher pressures and more resilient sidewalls just keep the trailer well planted and make sure it’s not ruining my life any more than it should.

Which all leads rather nicely to my favourite search term from this week’s selection:

“kendal mint cake cycling”

Now, I happen to lurve Kendal Mint Cake and on more than one occasion it’s saved me from certain bonk atop a ridiculous climb in equally ridiculous heat… I mean, come on, 4 different kinds of sugar all melted down, given a minty fresh zing, (sometimes) wrapped in chocolate and sold in gift shops everywhere… what’s not to like?

Yes, it’s true they climbed Mount Everest on it. Yes, it’s true I’ve had a bar of it in my cupboard for ever. Yes, it’s true I sometimes take it with me when I’m cycling but no, it’s not true that it’s a good cycling food.

Kendal Mint Cake, as awesomely tasty, minty and sugary as it may be, is really not much more than a block of pure sugar. Now, sugar’s great for picking you up when you’re down and a bar of the white stuff (I prefer the brown, personally) will certainly beat off the worst bonk but it won’t last for long.

Your body burns sugar really quickly and, before you know it, you’ll be back to bonking again and it’s only going to be worse because you’ll also be crashing from your sugar high.

So, by all means, grab a bar or two from the gift shop and stick it in your pockets but rely on it in small bites at a time as only the last of last resorts – you’d do much better to get plenty of slow release energy into you prior to the ride with some Clif Bars and / or bananas in your pockets.

Other high quality energy bars and fruit are available.

under pressure

 

Good evening dear readers and happy Thursday to you all! Thanks for all the messages of concern, issuing of search parties, placards, marches and… wait, what? You hadn’t noticed I haven’t been posting much recently? Pfft.

Well, be that as it may, it is Thursday again which means it’s time once again for our uber exciting foray into the murky world of:

‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’

But wait! Order now using your credit card and we’ll double this offer by also including our semi-interesting, semi-regular, semi-new feature:

∞ What I’ve been reading Wednesdays
(or whatever day it happens to be when I’m writing this)

Regular readers (I continue to hold out hope I actually do have some) may remember I’ve recently been feeling like something of a lettuce; mincing about, worrying something rotten about the bike slipping out from under me, resulting in the less than pleasant experience of picking pieces of gravel out of my face.

I’ve been trying out all sorts of different things in an effort to overcome my irrational fears: knobbly v slick tyres, road bike v touring bike, short stem v long stem, heavily laden bike v stripped down speed machine, thinking v not thinking – that last one doesn’t come too highly recommended, incidentally.

But, above all things I’ve tried, one thing above all others has really made all the difference to my cycling experience. It’s changed how I think about cycling, how my bike(s) handle, how I lean into corners and how I think about the surface (whatever surface it may be) I’m rolling over. I am, of course, talking about tyre pressures.

Here at lifeinthecyclelane HQ, we get a lot of visitors searching the interwebs looking for wisdom about tyre pressures; me being me, I even tried my best to provide a little of my own experience which may or may not be of some use to this week’s search term trivia winner:

“DMR Moto RT 26 tyre pressure”

To be completely fair, I really need to strap them back onto the Troll at some point and give them a second chance… maybe my new found knowledge will change my mind about them.

Until such time, let me introduce you to a blog recommended to me by friends who own a bike shop: Guitar Ted Productions and the post in question: Musings on Tires. UK readers will have to forgive the repeated misspelling of ‘tyres’, such is life when you read US blogs.

Still with me? Full of new knowledge and ready to lower your own tyre pressures? No? Still not quite convinced yet? Need a bit more coaxing? Wondering what Surly would do?

Not for the faint of heart: Surly Bikes blog and the disturbingly ‘normal’ post: Tires (again, you’ll have to forgive all the Americanisms, bless ’em).

We should hopefully be back to more regular posting now I have a stable broadband connection and, with the Troll approaching its 1st birthday, a few tweaks are in order and it’s about time I reviewed some more kit I love and kit I hate – keep your eyes peeled!

sexy boy

It’s OK. You can all breathe again. No need to sit on the edge of your seats anymore. I know you’ve probably all got the shakes from missing out on a whole week’s instalment of ‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’ but worry ye not, dear readers, lifeinthecyclelane is still alive and kicking; we’re just broadcasting to you from a new undisclosed location somewhere to the West of Manchester.

So, with the madness of the move out of the way, whatever passes for normal service around here has resumed.

The usual suspects have been out in force this week…

…all of which is very interesting, I’m sure you’ll agree but the one which really caught my eye was:

“Route 54 porn”

One can only assume this person was referring to National Cycle Network Route 54 which is well known for being quite literally littered with por… no, wait. That’d be weird…

Well, whatever they happened to be searching for, it kinda got me to thinking about the time I spent on NCN Route 54 and, more specifically, the off road stretch of it known as the White Peak Loop – you can read a quick report here.

Route 54 sceneryHome to some of Derbyshire’s finest scenery which, on the day in question, was bathed in glorious sunshine, it’s fair to say the White Peak Loop is a beautiful place to be and you could certainly do worse than spend an afternoon there with a nice picnic and a loved one (or two, if you’re lucky). As per my initial report though, you are hereby officially warned against heading there with heavily laden touring bikes.

Whim AlesHead just off the trail and you’ll (eventually) stumble across Whim Ales; a very small brewery at the top of a very large hill. As we were on ‘The Brewery Tour’, visiting as many breweries as possible (and bagging as much free booze as possible), we stuck our heads around the door and were given an impromptu tour by the poor unsuspecting folks we met inside. Considering they’re not open to the public, don’t do tastings or sales and we were filthy, sweaty and wild-eyed, we received a warm welcome and a cold wine bottle full of one of their beers (for free). It almost made the hideous climb all worth it. Almost.

HartleburyHead off the trail again (free beer safely stashed in the trailer) and you’ll find yourself feeding the ducks in the delightful little village of Hartington.

OK, so there weren’t actually any ducks but the duck pond itself was very pretty and it made for a lovely little lunch spot. Oh, don’t be deceived by this rare patch of flat road, by the way; being Derbyshire, you’re never far from some kind of climb and / or descent… there’s one just down there around the corner as it goes.

TissingtonSo, head just down there around the corner and climb the hill (it’s a beautiful road cut into the hillside) and you’ll soon find yourself turning onto the traffic free (mostly) flat and extremely pretty (so pretty I didn’t take any pictures of it) Tissington Trail; so named because it runs through the equally pretty little village of Tissington which just happens to be an excellent spot to stop and nom some malt loaf.

Me & GC @ Ashbourne TunnelFollow it all the way to the Southern tip like we did and you’ll find yourself posing in front of the Ashbourne Tunnel for a rather questionable picture in your rather questionable shorts.

What’s not to like?

safety dance

 

Wait. What? It’s Thursday already??? That must mean it’s time for yet another thrilling episode of ‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’… please, try to contain your enthusiasm.

It’s been a fairly busy week over here at lifeinthecyclelane HQ with quite literally some visitors sent our way by various search engines, all of which are (as usual) high quality contenders for the grand prize of being immortalised on a Thursday; but, there can be only one winner this week and it’s this little gem:

“is it safe to cycle on a canal towpath when it’s icy?”

Yes, and also no.

But mostly no (for me).

It all very much depends on how much of a lettuce you are, how good your bike handling skills are, what tyres you have fitted, what the towpath surface is made of and how much you fancy the idea of potentially slipping on a patch of ice and ending up taking a swim with whatever happens to be lurking in the canal. Of course, you won’t survive too long in water that cold anyway…

And on that happy note, I’ll leave you!

Oh, I’ve been thinking about a new weekly feature to delight my beloved lifeinthecyclelane readers… or, is there something in particular you’d like to see here?