Silver linings (and the shit hits the plan)

image

I’ve never had such a massive component failure, and I admit I never expected it to happen in such a perfect location.

Context: Will, Venetia and I had just crested the summit of a very long pass. Over 10kms we’d been climbing constantly up from sea level to 500m elevation. The hill was almost constantly rising with only a few places to recover a little. I am riding my ECR rigged for touring with slickish tyres and a total weight of 55kgs. The others are riding their Surlys with 3″ knobbly tyres and are pretty much fighting for ever metre.
We reach the pass, and in the last 100m I notice my shifting and gears are feeling weird again so stop to check.

Plans begin to unravel:
Stopping the bike Will comes over and I show him rhe funny noise when I pedal, which sounds like the chain skipping over the tensioners gear wheels (which it is).
Taking the wheel out and checking things out we found the free wheel was barely moving and appeared to be gummed up, in the process of poking and prodding it becomes apparent that the drive side bearing has failed as the axles is moving a few millimetres laterally in its housing. To top it off I think noticed oil had spilled on to the rim and on investigation it is appaeebt that the seal on my alfine 11 speed hub has failed and the gear oil is leaking rapidly.

Analysis: It is a whole world off fucked up inside that hub.

Silver linings:
Despite this all being a bit of a catastrophe it genuinely could not have happened in a better location. The pass we are sitting on top of is 16km almost entirely down hill to a ferry whicch connects with a bus that’ll get me back to Rejkyavik. The axle is still intact and the bearings has just enough life to get me along the roads, and the area is simply stunning. I mean genuinely utterly phenomenally indescribably beautiful.

So we rode down the hill to the pub. I jave never had so much fun in my life. Will and i took the chain off my bike so I have the heaviest balance bike ever made and off we go, flying down this beautifully made dirt road in a spectacular glacial valley with snow drifts, tarns, waterfalls, melt water rivers, massive cliffs and so so much happiness.

I’ll try to put up the video of the descent, but believe me. I have never riden a faster, more exhilarating descent!

Video Extract

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Iceland (pre-riding)

Well well well. I find myself in Iceland. Not find myself in the usual figurative sense of the word but in a somewhat literal sense. I arrived in Iceland on Sunday with no plan, no map, no idea how to get around or even the faintest clue of what I should see think or expect. Luckily two friends from Sydney, Will and Venetia, were in Reykjavik and instead of just offering advice have extended their stay here by two weeks and I now have some riding buddies with bikes even bigger and awesomer than mine.

While we haven’t really done much riding yet, and I have spent a lot of time chilling in the city checking things out it has been pretty spectacular all the same.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Edinburgh and back again

So I have spent the past few days riding a loop south and east of Edinburgh enjoying the massive amounts of sunshine that have been laid on presently. In fact is has been so consistently sunny that I am sun burnt!

My riding has followed cycle routes 76 and national cycle route 1 (NCR1) down the east coast and then across to Innerleith and back up to Edinburgh. Starting out flat with some nice pinchish climbs and lots of golf courses and varied track surfaces (at one point the trail was a two inch wind single track through paddocks for a few kilometres) has been great to get used to the handling of my very heavily loaded bike.
The hills have been something of a shock to the system, but I have already noticed myself getting fitter and now I am just tossing up whether to change the rims of my bike to try to reduce some of the massive rolling resistance I have with 2.3″ tyres on 50mm rims giving me well over an inch of contact width.

Anyway enjoy some happy snaps while I plan the next stage of my trip!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

2015 – It’s off to a good start

So 2015 is here. No matter that when ever I read it in my head I say 2005, no matter that today is 5/1/15 and I got a little bit excited, the important thing is that this is a new year were new things can happen and probably will. As anyone who has been following the blog would have read last year was a jam packed year with adventures to NZ, a big move back to Sydney and a whole lot of non-cycling related adventures. I don’t really have many goals for 2015 just yet but I have a strong suspicion that a decently big cycle tour might be squeezed in there somewhere. If anyone has polite suggestions of where I should go please feel free to contribute, however for now I think the leading contender is the back roads of Iceland.

Anyway, with a new year comes other new things. The first is a little bit of digital wizardry called a VIRB, which is a nifty little sports cam I have purchased and will be playing with over the coming year. To match this new technology I am going to be trying out a few little upgrades to the blog to make it keep up with the times. So here is my first attempt at a time lapse video as recorded on my new VIRB. I apologise in advance because, well, lets just say it is a little rough around the edges!

You can also have some photos from my Christmas holiday because the 5,300 of you who looked at my blog last year have been so good that you deserve more!

 

Moonie and Bob’s big walk

Do you ever feel like you haven’t been doing anything exciting recently? Do you ever feel like you haven’t done any thing worth telling people about when they ask you what you’ve been up to? I often feel like that, which I why I write this blog and I very much hope you enjoy my ramblings. Today however I do have exciting adventures to write about!

Now for anyone who hasn’t caught on with previous posts I recently bought a Surly ECR, which is a “semi-fat bike” with three inch tyres adequate for riding on most soft loose surfaces like sketchy roads, sand and purportedly snow. Living in Alice Springs there wasn’t a chance I would be taking the bike to snow. Living in Sydney though it is possible for snow to occur only a matter of hours away so this weekend I went looking for it!

I meet up with Simon from the FB group Fat Bikes Down-Under at Corin Dam in the ACT to start what I had presumed would be a leisurely ride and frolic in the snow. What transpired was entirely different.

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

From the Dam wall the ride quickly became a walk, and the walk quickly became a trudge, as we began the long accent from near the bottom of the valley (as a dam wall logically suggests in hindsight) up to Stockyard Spur where we hoped there would be snow we could ride out bikes in. I’d loaded up my bike with a frame bag and bar roll full of food, water and a multitude of warm clothing which meant the bike probably weighed in at about 30 kilograms, or in a more accessible unit of measure – too much!

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

The two kilometres to reach the top of the spur took over two hours of solid pushing to climb the 5oom, and with snow and ice starting about 100m from the top the last part of the distance was slow and treacherous. The rewards at the top were worth it though. I was greeted to a scene of beautiful snow gums, shin deep snow (15-20cm mostly), and weather that alternated between bright sunshine and snow flurries which were just enough to fill the tread marks in our tyre tracks as we rode.

As far as riding goes I am not sure I would describe it as successful. On my 29er plus semi-fat bike I spent the vast majority of the time pushing up hill and on flats. There were a few sections of downward slope which were rideable, but only where walkers had compressed the snow enough for there to be a firm pack to place the tyres on. As you can imagine in a fairly remote and hard to get to place there hadn’t been much compaction, and I would honestly guess that in the four and a half hours my little adventure took from car to car I rode for no more than 15 minutes.

I do think in a compacted snow field, probably something that had been groomed by snow-cats or something, it would be both possible and enjoyable to ride my bike in the snow. However for un-groomed fluffy snow I think it is safe to say I won’t be planning any more adventures of this type too soon. Not never, because it was fun, but not for now.

Anyway the rest of the adventure was fairly well adventurous, trundling back down the hill carrying my bike down the multitudinous steps back to the car. I think these photos should give you an idea of how beautiful and peaceful it is in the Australian snow, and also just how difficult it was “riding” my bike up there.

For any doubters out there. Here is the evidence of riding in the snow as demonstrate by yours truly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Practicing for Cold Rides!

Now that I live in Sydney cold weather is even more of a novelty than it was in Alice Springs. Today is a full month into winter and I am walking around town in shorts and tee-shirt because it is so warm. Now that I own an ECR I am on a mission though. These bikes were made for snow and slush and mud and all things fun.
I recently found mud of a satisfying depth and consistency while riding around Sparrow Hill and Canberra. That leaves snow.

With that in mind, I am went up to the Blue Mountains today for a practice ride with my fully loaded Surly.

The gear packed on the bike included:

  • Snow gloves (which I wore some of the time to see how easy it was to shift gears)
  • down vest
  • rain gear
  • extra thermals etc
  • 3.5 litres of water
  • stove and gas canister
  • tools
  • GPS
  • Food!
  • lots of Bike Bag Dude bags
  • k-lite dynamo lights

All in all I am pretty impressed by the amount of stuff I could fit on the bike without even trying to be efficient. I can see that with a bike seat bag or a bag on the back rack I could easily head out for a night or two without adding to much extra bulk or impacting the handling.

So…. The ride!

I had been reading the forecast all day yesterday and this morning and new that the weather had a strong potential to be miserable, which was exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately when I got to Faulconbridge in the lower Blue Mountains there was nary a cloud in sight, and the sun was bleating down.

So I loaded up and off I went along the lovely fire trail I had found described on the NSW Mtb forum last night. It was almost as flat as described, and gave me a good chance to play with the loaded bike. Just like my Long Haul Trucker the bike feels more stable and fun once it has a bit of load on it, and I couldn’t resist riding over every sand patch on the trail just to see if I could make the thing wobble. I couldn’t!

As I reached the point of the ridge, and the nice little lookout situated there, the wind dropped, the sun came out and everything was just spiffy for a spot of lunch and some chill time. Riding back to the car the wind picked up and the clouds came out. Looks like  picked my window perfectly if I hadn’t have been looking for the bad weather!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Fortnight of Fun

The last fortnight has been awesome, truly great and just plan good. Over the past two weeks I have had some great adventures in Alice Springs, Canberra and possibly even around Sydney though I might have to think a bit harder about that one to come up with an example.

Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to be able to go up to Alice Springs for the weekend and hang out with amazing people camping, slack-lining, walking, camp-firing and art auction attending. We had amazing weather (As always for this time of year) and camped under the multitudinous stars that are a feature of deserts every where. Although the whole weekend was amazing I think the two most impressive discoveries were a gorge full of carved aboriginal petroglyphs that have been dated to between six and eight thousand years old, and that crispy campfire bacon, roasted banana and maple syrup go quite well together.

 

This past weekend I have spent in Canberra in a similarly awesome weekend that involved lots of exciting things like cake, mountain biking at Sparrow Hill, a two year olds birthday party, a Global Wind Day Picnic, markets and lots of coffee! A big thank you to everyone who made it a second great weekend!

Oh, and the awesome thing about Sydney… Family of course. Thanks all!

Hill End, Katoomba and other places

I was lucky enough to spend last week out at Hill End, a small historic town about an hour out of Bathurst, which is about 2.5hrs out of Sydney, which is about 20 hours out of somewhere else.

The week itself requires very little explanation because it was just a splendid time of awesomeness, chilling, delicious food, and general niceness. So given I don’t intend to say much more than that I’d like to share some photos of places these lovely places. Oh and go there!

Mont 24hr 2014- but not the race

I was lucky enough to have an hour or two spare yesterday afternoon while in bungendore so I hit up the trails for this years Mont 24hr race on my ecr. The trails are great with an awesome mix of smooth flowy trails (good on a rigid semi-fat) and a few slightly rocky sections through the native forests which were a little jarring when taken at speed.

Eitherway the tracks are awesome and well chosen. As unfit as I am there was never too much up to tire me out beyond being able to ride, there is plenty of room to pass which will be great for those riding.

For anyone who hasn’t heard the news yet – it has been raining a lot and there is every chance what looked like dry mud is now deep mud ready to mess up and chainbit finds. Single speed drive chains and fat tyres would be great.

Anyway I won’t be riding the trails during the race but good luck and safe riding to everyone who is.

image

image

Surly ECR – Everything Combined Really

I took me new Surly ECR for its christening ride yesterday. For anyone one who has read and day dreamed about these – they are more amazing than you could have imagined.

For a quick bit of nerd out, my bike has been built up with a pd8 front hub, alfine 11 rear hub, old man mountain rack and near standard parts everywhere else. At 17.5kg it is by no means light, but you forget that any time you aren’t on flat ground.

My ride yesterday involved groomed single track, bush bashing, rock field adventures, some very quick descents and then riding home on the Todd River. Basically this bike did it all more confidently then I could have imagined!

At one point I found myself cruising up a nasty fire trail comfortably on the saddle on to find a dirt bike washing out up the hill behind me. He kept going so I turned around and bombed down the track like I was on a dualy.

This bike really is fun!

image

image

image

 

Update: 1st of May 2014.

So I have been riding the ECR for a few months now. I haven’t managed to take it on any large epic rides as much as I would have loved to, however I have ridden it on rocks, roads, beaches and single track. It is amazing.

I have tried to explain the feel of the bike to heaps of people, so many people working in bike shops have asked me what it is like and this is my best description.

It is bike and awesome and like riding a bike with saggy suspension.

That might not sound that exciting or great but you have no idea how awesome this combination is. The bike rolls around a track as though the track was made just for it. The size weight forces you to ride a bit slower and to really enjoy the track for what it is, rather than bombing down hills and racing up. Basically the bike forces you to enjoy your environment.

Riding it on the beach is fun. I spent an afternoon riding along Nobby’s beach in Newcastle where the waves had carved and scalloped out the sand into little ramps and step jumps. The experience of riding, bunny hoping and jumping a bike on sand is like nothing else I’ve experienced since I first rolled over a dirt mound in the local park as a kid. The 3″ tyres are great for sand, even relatively loosely packed. You won’t be able to ride up sand dunes but you can most certainly ride down them!

Around town (although it certainly isn’t the bikes natural environment) the bike is fun. Don’t expect to turn sharp corners if you don’t have much pressure in the tyres, but do expect to have fun!

Anyway for a few photos of the rides I have done so far consider looking at these links.

Finally, for anyone who has a bike like this consider chatting to Bike Bag Dude who has made up the frame bag and bar roll that adorn my ECR. They are awesome and perfect. K-Lite dynamo lights are also proving to be more than just awesome!

wpid-20140403_150758.jpg

My Surly getting a work out. Thanks to Bike Bag Dude for the awesome frame bag which I haven't taken off the bike since I got it!

My Surly getting a work out. Thanks to Bike Bag Dude for the awesome frame bag which I haven’t taken off the bike since I got it!

100+ year old building and the shadow of my ECR

100+ year old building and the shadow of my ECR