are we the waiting

 

If you’re anything like me, you really don’t need an excuse to go to the bike shop; I find myself in there at least once a week whether I actually need anything or not. Very often I find myself buying things I didn’t know I wanted or needed… Most often though, I just find myself hanging out with the guys who run the place, playing with Shop Mutt Olive and drooling over bikes I can neither afford or (if I could afford them) justify buying.

So, when I heard a lot of crazy talk about there being something a little bit rare and a little bit special in the shop… well, it was a no-brainer! I was going in!

Despite many, many gems such as the following, we’re going to skip this week’s ‘Random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’:

  • Bruising for Marzocchi
  • porno sportwomen
  • How do I shift gears on a Surly Troll?

Sigh.

482411_10151452376954863_1180841035_nSo, instead, let me tease you with this shot of one of Surly’s new Rabbit Hole rims wrapped in a 29 x 3″ Surly Knard tyre.

Now, as you may or may not know, such things are something or a rarity in the UK just at the minute as they’re normally only found attached to Surly’s new is-it-an-MTB-is-it-a-fat-bike 29er, the Krampus.

So, what’s a Knard doing in a small, independent bike shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter? And, more importantly, what’s it attached to?

644084_10151452375969863_1347449314_nWell, dear reader, everything you’ve hoped for is true! There is indeed a Surly Krampus in my favourite bike shop! Don’t ask me how they got, but they got it, know what I mean? Luckily for me, it’s not for sale which, considering it’s the only one in the UK at the moment that we know of, probably means it wouldn’t come cheap!

I didn’t get to ride it but I did get a good look at it and I’ve gotta say, what a machine! 29″ wheels, 3″ wide tyres, a 1 x 10 drivetrain and disc brakes give it a really simple, clean look and probably all the gearing you’ll ever need. I suspect those tyres are going to be awesome off road and will give you enough confidence and suspension effect to ride over just about anything.

The paintwork is a kind of deep green metalflake which really isn’t Surly’s normal style but it isn’t in the least bit garish and I think it works perfectly with the bike.

Want.

I’m told framesets will be available over here a little later this year and full bikes next year (I think).

nothing compares 2 u

 

3020_71527479862_5268368_nAs time goes by, new people come into your life; some stay for a while, others only for a fleeting moment. A precious few (for me, at least) stick around forever.

The same (again, for me, at least) is true of bikes. Just like the various people I’ve come across have taught me a lot about life, love and loathing, the bikes I’ve owned have taught me so much about being fat, being fit and going fast.

Interestingly, I don’t remember my first love… she might’ve had brown hair… maybe… was she the one with a VW Beetle? Were we happy together? Did we have plans for the future? I honestly couldn’t tell you… for one reason or another, I’ve blocked out those memories or they simply weren’t important enough for me to retain.

3020_71527364862_6393263_n 3020_71527369862_3687761_nAsk me about my first bike build and I can tell you everything you want to know! She was an orange Specialized Hardrock with Marzocchi MZ Comp suspension forks, a 27 speed Shimano Deore drivetrain and Avid Single Digit v-brakes. Followed quite closely by my second love, ‘the Race Face bike’, also with Marzocchi forks, Shimano XT drivetrain, Avid BBDB disc brakes, Race Face cranks, saddle, seatpost, stem and bars. It had Odyssey Sharkbite pedals, Halo Knobbler tyres and was just an awesome machine.

The Race Face bike eventually got broken down and largely sold off in parts (you’ll recognise the cranks on my current Surly Troll) but I kept the orange Hardrock for many years as a spare bike for my friend to ride around whenever he came to visit.

33932_444266934862_5527787_n I forget exactly why but I ended up getting rid of the original Marzocchi fork at some point and rebuilt the bike with… another Marzocchi fork! But, this time, it was also sporting a whiter than white Charge x Wiggle Spoon saddle and matching handlebar grips which stayed white for at least 10 seconds. In this guise, my fondest memory is watching it pull a spectacular 6 foot long, 2 wheel drift across a frozen wooden bridge on an equally frozen winter’s morning, deep in the woods of Cannock Chase on a deserted trail in the hands of my good friend.

6770_115343424862_5312862_nIn the meantime, I had a foray into the weird world of single speeding and built up the Hardrock with a rigid Onza Lite Guy fork, 26 x 1″ Specialized All Condition slicks and flat bars. That was fun!

Why am I boring you with this orange tinted nostalgia? Well, unlike whatshername, I was decidedly reluctant to part with my beloved Hardrock. She taught me so much and gave me so many miles of happiness… and yet, today I boxed her up, taped the lid down and sent her off for new adventures somewhere unpronounceable in Aberdeenshire.

It broke my heart to see her go and the PayPal boost I received in return only eased the pain a little… at least up there she’ll get to see some great countryside and I’m sure she’ll make some Scotchman very happy indeed.

Sigh… time for a new MTB build, I think.

ice ice baby

 

It was always going to happen, I suppose.

Sooner or later you have to crash every bike you own. I remember my dad once swearing me off motorbikes by telling me “It’s not a question of if you come off, it’s when and how badly”; I suppose the same could be said for bicycles.

Since you’re reading this, it means I’ve finally managed to crash the Troll. And, since I’m able to type this, it means the crash wasn’t too bad at all; it certainly could’ve been an awful lot worse.

You see, it’s been rather chilly up here in t’ North for… well, forever, but particularly so the last couple of weeks. Has this stopped me cycling? Am I some kind of lettuce? Do I only get my bike out when it’s warm, dry and breathless out there? Hell no! I ride all year round in whatever weather happens to be out there.

I will admit to slowing down a little and not hammering through corners quite as much as I normally would in this colder weather with the roads as greasy and unpredictable as they are. Even still, I just about survived a two wheel drift scary enough to stop the traffic a few days ago; that was a close one.

And so, after mincing all the way to work this morning, dodging white lines, shiny manhole covers, tram tracks and hundreds of Mancs, I made it to within 100m of my office door. I was in the bloody car park leaning into a right hand turn I must’ve taken a thousand times when I suddenly realised the bike was still going forward…

I slid with balletic grace for a good 2 feet before the rear wheel also lost traction on the ice and I hit the concrete; stupidly, I put my hand out to break my fall which sent daggers of pain right up my arm all the way to my shoulder blade. As I lay on the ground, guessing how many bones I’d broken, the kindly cyclist following me in picked up the Troll and checked I was OK before heading off to complain to the building managers about the lack of grit.

After I’d hobbled down to the nearest NHS walk in centre, I was assured the only damage done was a bruised elbow and matching ego. Having broken a collarbone before, I know all too well just how lucky I was today…

It won’t stop me cycling and neither should it stop you but it just goes to show you can’t let your concentration slip for a second in icy conditions.

 

Anyway, it’s Thursday again so it’s time for my new feature: ‘Stuff people have been searching for when they landed here’. Catchy title, eh?

  • First up this week: “fitting SKS mudguards to Merida bike disc brakes”
    • Well, it very much depends on whether your bike has mudguard eyes; if it does, full wrap mudguards like SKS Commuter may work but your disc calipers are likely to cause interference issues. I’d recommend having a look at SKS Beavertail; I’ve used the regular ones (good for narrower tyres) and the XL ones like I had fitted to my Merida (good for wider tyres). As they mount just from the brake bridge, you shouldn’t have any problems with your discs and you’ll still get plenty of coverage.
  • Who’s next? Ah yes: “Marzocchi fork makes a dinging noise”
    • Dude, that’s not good. Get it to a bike shop right away and no, don’t ride it there. Having said that, it could just be a stray brake cable knocking against the fork legs or, if you’re running disc brakes, they may be adjusted too close which could also be causing a sound like that. Hopefully, it’s not a small crack about to turn into a face plant inducing failure. Best of luck!
  • Time for one more? Well, how could I resist this one: “my tracksuit is made”
    • Err… good. Yeah. Mad fer it. etc. etc.

So there you go; I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s insight into just some of the visitors to life in the cycle lane – tune in next week for more!

Oh, and stay off the ice!

somebody that I used to know

 

If I had my way, I’d have a huge barn out in the countryside. Inside, I’d have a couple of old leather couches, an antique fridge full of excellent beer and one of those funky old jukeboxes with lots of chrome and big chunky buttons.

The walls would be adorned with old tin advertising plates and maybe even the odd picture of a scantily clad girl or two. In the corner, there would be my Park Tool workstand, a nice long wooden workbench and my beloved old Snap On tool chest with all my tools carefully organised into their respective drawers.

The rest of the barn would be laid out with row after row of bike stands, displaying all the bikes I’ve ever owned and, because I’m uber rich in my fantasy barn, I would’ve owned an awful lot more bikes by now than I actually have.

There’s just one minor snag… I’m not rich.

Harumph.

Oh well. For now, I’ll just have to do without the beer fridge and jukebox and settle for putting the couple of old advertising signs I have up in the Man Cave. On the plus side, I do own a beautiful old Snap On tool chest but I must confess it’s not nearly as carefully organised as it should be.

Now, as much as it pains me to admit that Karen’s always right… well, she is always right. In this particular instance, she’s been at me recently telling me I just can’t keep my entire collection of bikes; and so, the time has come to clear a few out which has got me all nostalgic about some of my favourite rides:

Way back when, I was the proud owner of a Raleigh Pioneer Trial hybrid which was my first ‘proper’ bike. With flat bars and bar ends, 700c wheels, 21 gears and an all steel frameset with plenty of rake on the fork (Tim will no doubt like this one), this remains one of my all time favourite bikes.

As I started doing more and more miles, I started learning about bikes and bike parts and my faithful old Raleigh was more than happy to go along with my experimentation. Here she is with American Classic wheels, Shimano Deore 27 speed drivetrain, the first of many Charge Spoon saddles I’ve owned and my friend’s Bumper Transporter twin wheel trailer in tow. Eventually, I ended selling the Raleigh to a nice Lithuanian guy who is hopefully still commuting around the Midlands on it.

Before long, I’d built up enough knowledge to have a go at building my own bike and, following a rather steep learning curve, I put together my first mountain bike with my first set of Halo Twin Rail tyres, disc brakes and Marzocchi suspension forks. Man, I loved that bike! And man, was I fat in this picture! I still have some of these parts knocking around but the frame ended up getting sold once I realised it was actually a couple of sizes too small for me (more of that learning curve business).

A short while and quite a lot of saving up later and I put together my beloved Graham Weigh cyclocross bike which taught me so much about road riding, touring and the importance of having the right gearing on your bike. Starting out life with Shimano Tiagra STIs (that’s the flappy paddle style brake / gear levers you see on many road bikes with drop bars – it stands for Shimano Total Integration, by the way), this bike went through various incarnations including aero bars, pannier racks and my introduction to bar end shifters. Here you see it in my favourite setup with full wrap mudguards and matching brown saddle and bar tape. Once I’d built the Troll, there just wasn’t any place for it anymore so again, the frameset got sold off but many of the parts are still knocking around in various boxes that Karen thinks are empty…

In preparation for moving to Manchester, I had to part with my mountain bike. This was another of my all time favourites; the keen eyed observers will recognise the Marzocchi forks and handlebars etc. from my previous MTB and the Race Face chainset from the current Troll build.

The most recent eBay casualty of my collection is my faithful of old Merida. Another much experimented upon bike, I’ve used drop, flat and even butterfly bars on this bike and it really broke my heart to sell it. But, taking the money off the guy certainly helped to numb the pain!

Anyway, with only the Troll in current active service, I am officially a one bike man again… *shudder*