two tribes

 

Steady, steady… control yoursleves… Hey! No pushing at the back!

Yes! YES! It’s Thursday again which can mean only one thing: it’s time for ‘random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia!’… I know, right?

Just like last week, there have been definite themes presenting themselves:

  • Originally, I was going to explore such marvels as:197736_10150987697709863_1220920617_n
    • “cycle route hadfield” – yes, it’s a little thing know as the Trans Pennine Trail.
    • “springfield close hadfield transpennine trail” – yes, it looks like there’s a path at the end of the road to access said trail
    • “longdale cycle track hadfield uk” – actually, it’s Longdendale trail.
    • “woodhead pass” – uh huh, that can be found at the end of the Longdendale trail, best of luck.
    • “trans pennine way in 3 days” – them’s fightin’ words… No, wait. It’s a walking trail across another part of t’ Pennines, never mind.

The Longdendale trail being a rather lovely, relaxed gravel path, we were going to enjoy ‘Gravel Pit’ by Wu Tang Clan but the lyrics are just far too rude!

  • So, instead, we’ll have a brief look into:182314_10151327133014863_677955864_n
    • “long haul trucker troll heavier” – yes, the Troll is much heavier than the Long Haul Trucker; at least my Troll is much heavier than my friend’s LHT.
    • “surly troll vs lht”
      • Now, that’s a good question! We’ve only done maybe 100 miles together on these two so a direct comparison will have to wait until later on this year when we take them on some kind of coast to coast tour (haven’t decided which route to take yet) but for now consider this:
        • They’re both touring bikes,
        • They both have rigid forks,
        • They’ll both handle a certain amount of off roading,
        • They’re both made by Surly so you know they’re awesome and highly versatile; you could do worse than own either of them (or both!).

Oh, I almost forgot! Somebody has asked us this week “can you ride a brompton bicycle off road?” – I have NO idea but I’m excited to find out! So, if you’re a Brompton owner and you read this blog (ahem, I’m looking at you, Northern Walker), please please please take it off road and let us know how it performs!

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somewhere i belong

 

I am what many people describe as ‘grumpy’. I don’t celebrate christmas. I don’t make a big deal about birthdays. I don’t share anything about my private life with anyone I don’t want to. Hell, I don’t even write this blog in my real name. As a rule, I don’t much like to be around other people and the few I choose to have in my life respect that and don’t question me on it too much.

Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why, given the opportunity to go for a recreational ride, I will normally seek out roads / trails where other people are not; this so called festive period has been no exception.

538380_10151340437144863_312537869_nI am blessed to have some very dramatic scenery on my doorstep and even more so to have my ever patient girlfriend to explore it with; here’s the view over Ashworth Reservoir in the howling wind on new year’s day. I’m sorry to say a great many others had also descended on one of my favourite spots to walk off the excessive eating and drinking they were brashly bragging about to each other at high volume as they slopped about the trails in highly inappropriate footwear, pausing only to yell at their fat children / dogs or drop some litter. [insert disgruntled expletive here].

And so, after my traditional xmas day cycle up the affectionately named hill of death (also known as the Ashworth Road, Rochdale), I turned off the A680 and onto the innocuous looking Bamford Road.

At first, it starts out much like any other country lane lined with pretty dry stone walls and sporting a freshly laid layer of smooth, smooth tarmac. Before long however, as is often the way with small rural roads in these parts, the tarmac starts to fall into disrepair before petering out completely and giving way to whatever hardcore the local farmers have decided to spread on the surface.

A little further along and even the hardcore disappears; the surface eventually ends up consisting of the sandstone bedrock, loose rocks that have been worked loose by the rivers running across the ‘road’ and the residual sand left behind. Thanks to the relatively low rate amount of traffic seen by this road, even nature has managed to reclaim a little bit back here and there with well stocked hedgerows and even a stubborn central strip of grass. Other than me, my riding buddy, 2 Surlys and a few friendly wagtails, I didn’t see another soul for ages.

This. This is Troll country. This is somewhere I belong.

564123_10151327134024863_1323047153_n

the only way is up

Happy holidays dear readers! I hope you’ve all been having a relaxing and enjoyable time whether you celebrate xmas or not. Over here at life in the cycle lane HQ, we’ve largely been doing lots of cycling up in t’ hills, eating lots of delicious food and drinking more than a few glasses of excellent wine. Keep your eyes peeled for a report on just some of our recent adventures.

In th meantime, another week has passed us by and Thursday is once again upon us which can mean only one thing; yes, it’s time for another instalment of ‘random stuff people were searching for when they landed here trivia’! Grab yourself a mince pie or something else delicious, pour yourself a glass of wine and sit back whilst I entertain you with this mindless nonsense.

  • Our first special guest this week comes to us via Google and wants to know “trivia about searching things” – no, really; somebody actually was searching for that when they landed here!
    • Worry not, your search is over! You’ll be (semi) pleased to learn that we explore the murky world of search trivia here at life in the cycle lane every Thursday, week in, week out. Got a glass of something to wash your mince pie down with? Good. Welcome to the family.
  • Now then… who’s next? Ah yes. “What is the widest tyre for a Brompton?”
    • Err… I’m sorry to say I have no idea! What I do know, however, is that Bromptons run on the larger 349c version of the 16″ wheel, not the 305c version you find on kids’ bikes, BOB Yaks and other such things so do take care when shopping for replacements to carefully check because 16″ isn’t necessarily 16″…
    • I had a wheel custom built for my BOB Yak using a Brompton 349c rim which I run with a Schwalbe Kojak 16 x 1 1/4″ tyre; it’s slick, narrow and designed for high pressures so if you’re a lettuce, it’s not for you. There are some slightly larger alternatives around the 16 x 1 3/8″ range which will give a little more comfort but I suspect you’re wondering whether something like the 2″ wide Schwalbe Big Apple would fit, yes? Well, no, it won’t. Sorry.
  • Next up this week is the person wanting a “Keep Pedalling Manchester wheel build review”
    • Seeing as Keep Pedalling, Manchester is my all time favourite bike shop ever and the place I source all my cycling gear these days including a rfecent custom built wheelset, I’d be more than happy to provide you with a review – that’s a job for next week. In the meantime, get yourself down there once they reopen in the new year and have a drool over all the cool stuff they have in stock.
  • Next! “I hate my Long Haul Trucker”
    • Oh. Really? That’s a shame. Please feel free to donate it and I’ll make sure it finds a home with someone who’ll truly love it. Drop me a line here.
  • OK, we have time for just one more this week; there have been so many good contenders but we have to go with “Race Face crown race which way up?”
    • Sigh. If you need to ask that question, you really shouldn’t be attempting to fit the crown race yourself. Get it wrong and your headset simply won’t work and if you try to ride your bike like that, you’re guaranteed to suffer a catastrophic failure which will no doubt result in you going face surfing.
    • If you’re anywhere near Manchester, take your frame, fork & headset in to Keep Pedalling and ask them to fit it for you; they’ll no doubt also advise you on cutting your steerer tube down and other such things which require specialist tools and a bit of know-how.

OK, that really is all we have time for this week; tune in next Thursday for even more mundane search trivia!

monster

 

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, me.

Regular readers of this blog will know that several weeks ago, I collected my Surly Troll frameset from the shop with grand ideas of getting it built within a mere couple of days. I mean, given you have the parts and everything goes according to plan, there’s no reason at all why you can’t put a bike together in a mere couple of hours.

I thought I had all the parts.

I thought everything would go according to plan.

I thought wrong.

You see, I actually did have all the parts I needed to make a perfectly usable bike; the problem is my bloody perfectionism! I already have a perfectly usable bike… in fact, if you ask my girlfriend, she’ll tell you I have several perfectly usable bikes. And, I suppose she’s right.

But, the Troll was never going to just be usable.

Over the years, I’ve tried and tested all manner of different parts, ridden all manner of different frame types & materials and, along the way, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, learnt a lot of lessons and developed a fondness and brand loyalty for some of the better stuff I’ve come across.

My good friend Geordie was right when he said he’d planted the Surly seed back when we built his Long Haul Trucker in my driveway. Sure, it wasn’t cheap and no, it still isn’t fully finished off so I’ll be parting with more hard earned cash before too long but (coming in on the right side of £1000) I fully expect to be keeping this bike for an extremely long time.

So, here’s a quick rundown of some of the good stuff I’ve discovered over the years making an appearance on the Troll:

  • Frame and fork – Courtesy of Surly, of course, and made from 4130 chromoly steel providing stiffness, flexibility, comfort and surprisingly low weight. Being a company that builds weird, quirky and sometimes utterly ridiculous stuff, they occupy that special place in my heart. I must put my hands up and admit I was convinced Surly was an English brand but I’m reliably informed that they are, in fact, as American as… well, Minnesota. Not to worry, we like Americans.
  • HeadsetCane Creek. Another American brand here; they make great stuff that works well and won’t cost the earth. Oh, and they put lizards on almost everything they make. We also like lizards.
  • Bars, stem & seatpost – All brought to you by the good people over at On One Bikes in Rotherham. These guys actually are English and, like Surly, are also the good kind of mad. They make quirky, but well thought out stuff from good materials and it’s all available at really good prices.
  • Saddle & bar tape – Another excellent English company going by the name of Charge. Primarily, they’re known these days for catering to the single speed and fixed gear market with some really cool parts, just the right amount of quirk and really good prices. I run Charge saddles on all of my bikes and have used many of their other products on several bike builds.
  • TyresHalo Twin Rail. Quite simply the most versatile tyre I’ve ever come across. They do it all: road, trail, gravel and even a certain amount of mud. Originally designed for jumping around the skate park and random bits of city centre street furniture, you can now get Twin Rails in all kinds of sizes and colours. Love ’em. Oh, and Halo just happens to be another English company… sweet.
  • Gears – Dia Compe full friction bar end levers coupled with Shimano Deore Shadow derailleurs give me all the gear combinations I’m ever going to need on this bike and all the fine adjustment that only non-indexed gear levers can give.
  • Brakes – One more American brand creeps in here in the shape of Avid (or SRAM, or whatever they’re called at the moment) and their phenomenally good BB5 disc calipers. These are the road version and I have 160mm on the rear (the maximum possible with the Troll frame) and a massive 203mm on the front which have simply incredible stopping power – so much so I nearly threw myself over the bars on a tricky descent earlier on. The levers are Cane Creek again, SCR-5 is the model and they’re all black and they’ve got the all important lizards on them!
  • Chainset & bottom bracket – Surprisingly enough, what with my best friend being Canadian and all the best mountian bike stuff coming out of Canada, this is the only bit of Canadiana on the bike, brought to you by Race Face. Look ’em up, they just make good stuff.

As I said, there’s still more work to do here; not least switching out the rear Shimano disc for an Avid one (there’s that pesky perfectionism again), sourcing and fitting luggage racks and bags and deciding on a chainstay protector… Oh, will it never end???

So, once all of that is sorted, I’ll take some arty detail shots of the completed build but, for now, you’ll just have to make do with this one of the Troll taking a much needed rest after climbing the affectionately named ‘Hill of death’ (also known as Ashworth Road, Rochdale). The descent of which is quite simply awesome, by the way.

mr. writer

Bald, bearded and (in this picture) berating me for not getting his wheels fixed as I’d allegedly promised to, my very good friend and preferred cycling buddy Geordie Clarke is Deputy editor at Money Management magazine (part of the Financial Times Group). He also happens to be a wine aficionado and is mainly to blame for my interest in all things cycling related; you can read his wine blog here.

Anyway, I happen to be going away for a much needed holiday in the sun for a week so in the meantime, I am entrusting my blog to Geordie in the vain hope that he’ll post a guest entry or two about his collection of bikes which includes a full carbon Condor, a titanium Planet X, a steel Surly Long Haul Trucker and a couple of other bikes in various stages of being built / taken apart.

Also on our list of shared interests (along with bikes, food and redheads) is a penchant for really good beer. Incidentally, sweet talking your way into the Ironbridge Brewery doesn’t make their beer any cheaper or better… It’s OK, but I’m not sure it’s good enough to warrant the hideous climb back out of Ironbridge Gorge. So, maybe GC here will regale us with tales of his beer drinking adventures instead?

Well, whatever he ends up writing about, I’m sure it’ll keep you entertained whilst I’m sitting in the sun, sipping a Sangria… unless he starts writing about pension plans and the such… zzzzzzzz

he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

 

“Do not exceed 25mph” is written alongside “Do not carry humans or animals” on the back of my BOB Yak; for the record, I’ve never carried any humans or animals in it (despite being tempted once or twice) but I have broken the first rule on several occasions, the most memorable of which was in the middle of the 2011 brewery tour, somewhere on the Tissington Trail.

From our campsite in Leek, we’d planned an ‘easy’ day down to Ashbourne but instead of just heading straight there, we went East and headed for NCN Route 54 and a stop off at the Whim Ales brewery; you can read more about that part of the trip here. After bagging our free booze, my brakes falling apart, getting a pinch flat after hitting a large pothole too hard and going the wrong way down a short stretch of the Manifold Trail, we eventually tied up with NCN Route 68 and the famous Tissington Trail which runs off road all the way into Ashbourne where our next campsite was located.

Lunching at a lovely spot in Hartlebury, we were starting to recover from the horror that was the White Peak Loop, the relentless hill climb up to Whim Ales and the roadside running repairs I needed to make in the equally relentless heat. A few miles up the road, through some very pretty cuttings in the hillside and we reached Hartington and one of the many access points to the Tissington Trail; it’s well put together too: Here at the old railway station, there are clean and well appointed public toilets, a tap to refill your bidons (that’s water bottles, by the way), an ample car park and the surface of the trail is just excellent all the way South. It actually continues North for quite a way too where it joins up with the High Peaks Trail but I haven’t explored that one yet.

We stopped for a malt loaf break in the beautiful little village at Tissington where we sat for a while, soaking up the scenery, the sunshine and the new found feeling of happiness we’d gained from riding side by side down the trail which, because it was slightly downhill, we managed to maintain one hell of a pace despite the trailside foliage slapping into our legs and small children occasionally getting in our way.

Incidentally, if you wanted to jump on the trail at Tissington, there are equally good facilities and car parking here along with lots of other things to see and do in the local area; it’s one of my favourite little corners of the world, Derbyshire.

At the end of the trail is the Ashbourne Tunnel, recently reopened to the public and surprisingly good fun to cycle through! Oddly, the trail comes to something of an anticlimactic end in a Sainsbury’s car park just outside Ashbourne town centre but, again, if this is your entry point of choice, it’s very accessible indeed. So, if you’re looking for somewhere really nice and safe to get back on your bike or you’re wanting to get your kids into cycling or perhaps you just want to defy the health & safety types over at BOB, the Tissington Trail comes highly recommended.

Incidentally, my riding buddy on the left here actually isn’t my brother but he also ain’t heavy… his Surly Long Haul Trucker is though!

the road to hell

 

“What could possibly go wrong?” I remember asking my riding buddy when I was planning our 2011 bike tour; we’d planned to tour the midlands, visiting a few breweries along the way, camping every night and taking in as many National Cycle Network routes as possible.

This is a stretch of NCN Route 54, specifically the off road section of the White Peak Trail which follows a bridleway near Hartington, Derbyshire. This is officially the first (and probably only) picture taken of my cycling buddy, Geordie, having to get off his bike and push.The reason? Well, what this picture doesn’t do justice to is the insane gradient here which was easily 17% and possibly more. Now, we’ve ridden up 17% (and steeper) climbs before with luggage but what made this one impossible was the surface: it was loose, deep sand peppered with sharp rocks, widly undulating and it never got wider than 3 feet (a lot of it was barely bike width).

Kojak (my BOB Yak trailer) and I somehow made it to the top ahead of Geordie and his heavily laden Surly Long Haul Trucker; I think partly because my overall setup is slightly narrower so I was able to blaze a trail through the undergrowth with slightly less hassle.

From here, we found some tarmac but things didn’t improve much… the gradient just kept increasing and so did the pot holes.

Just up the road from here is the rather obscure and very out of the way Whim Ales which really isn’t the kind of brewery you just turn up at on your bike, pouring sweat and totally exhausted; they’re just not set up for visitors, tastings, sales or anything like that. Bless them though, they did take the time to show us around and even gave us an old wine bottle full of one of their beers, Flower Power, which we drank with earnest at the campsite several hours later.

Most of what we rode on route 54 was just lovely and, as you can see, the scenery is some of Derbyshire’s finest but that Bridleway just shouldn’t be signposted as part of a cycle route. I wouldn’t like to ride it in reverse on a proper mountain bike… For shame, Sustrans; for shame.