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3rd October 2015
Maintenance day

I've broken two rear shifters in the last month, one Campag and one Shimano 105 shifter. The Campag is a regualr breakage, that's the fourth shifter in six commuting years and that leaves me with four road bikes all of which are out of action.

So I decide to finally try singlespeed commuting. I use the old Trek 1200 as a base. This has been untouched in the garage for 18 months with a few bits and pieces being cannibalised (rear shifter for one and the 105 chainset too). It's even still got the muck and grime on from Winter 2013 commuting duties.

So I decide to order some pieces to allow me to convert it to a singlespeed. A 1 & 1/8th chain from Wiggle and a Andel (S*rly) Cro-Mo Singlespeed 18T cog and VeloSolo Singlespeed Patriot Spacer Kit.

After cleaning the bike and removing excess parts I fit the cog and spacer to the rear wheel which looks very nice with the Patriot spacer kit. Strip off the front and rear mech and use the broken rear 105 shifter in brake mode only. I also tidy up the bar tape and fit a chain tensioner that's in the spares box.

But I can't get the chain tension correct. It's either too shot or too long. I need to add or remove two links to ensure I have two female connectors on the chain ends. It's far too slack. I need to think about that.

I've also forgotten to order a set of thinner chainset bolts which are required with only one chainring up front.

More work and a bit of thinking required.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


4th October 2015
Riders: Richard, Rich Lonegroover, Robin, Nick & Tim
Holmbury Hill & Pitch Hill
20 degrees

The weather has been great again, dry all week and the forecast is a sunny Sunday as I meet Tim, Nick, Rich and Robin at a packed out Holmbury YHA car park.

I last rode with Tim circa 2004. Another ex-dialled bikes merchant his Morning Glory was recently liberated from his garden shed and so like me he’s getting to know and love the joys of full-suss, slack geometry 1x11 I/O etc.

Rich and Robin have both been out in the cold for a while too and it’s great to catch up with both of them again.

We head off on a well-worn route although with Tim’s knowledge of the trails only extending to roughly a loop of BKB and Telegraph Road virtually every trail we ride is a new one for him a we head over Holmbury to Peaslake and explore the network of trails in that area. We bump into Karl and his buddy out sessioning the jump sections and Karl shows us how to do it. we applaud him but decline to follow and push on.

My imaging services are letting me down recently with my GoPro out of action since I got caught in a massive downpour whilst descending La Toussuire during the Tour de France and the Canon still camera is being temperamental and I only manage to get one action shot from it all day plus a couple of non-riding shots from my iPhone.

The trails are sweet, a bit of early morning dew keeping us focused on the first few rooty trails but once the sun is up the trails have the perfect amount of firmness and grip and we all bag a healthy load of cups on Strava (not that I’m a Strava wh*re, it’s just nice to see how you’ve got on once you are back home).

A quick break at a crowded Peaslake Stores although a roadie club ride has beaten us to it and the queue is out the door so we just smash down whatever snacks we are carrying with us before taking an overgrown Return of the Jedi climb back up and over Holmbury for the final blast down Yoghurt Pots and Telegraph Road.

It was great to be out and about today. There aren’t too many more of these kind of weekends left this year.

I’ve got a beeg, beeg ride brewing, look out for next weeks adventure.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


10th October 2015
Riders: Richard & Greg
M25 loop
12 degrees

Greg and I have kept this under wraps. Mainly cos with a ride this big we don't need any time wasters. And with Greg, I know that if he says he's up for it, he's gonna be there, no messing and it's the same with me, if I commit to something I 'm going to do it come hell or high-water.

So Greg rolls up to my door at 05:50 a.m. and we set off on a frankly ridiculous route that will take us through six counties before ending back in Surrey (that's Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and back to Surrey).

My preparation for this has been less than ideal. With four road bikes all out of action I haven't cycle-commuted for 3 weeks and have only done two medium length MTB rides. The last week saw me frantically repairing the Bianchi to get it rideable. It's still got a dodgy shifter and the stiff aluminium frame gives a frankly harsh, uncomfortable ride compared to the Allez but it's the easiest of the four to repair and I manage to get in a cycle-commute on the Thursday just to shake down the bike and check it's ok.

At this time of the morning it's still pitch black but Greg and I are both seasoned year-round commuters and this doesn't phase us as we head out via a misty Chipstead to Merstham where we see the dawn rise. From there we hit the A25 and follow it most of the way to Gravesend.

The roads are poor in this part of Surrey and as we cross over into Kent. The Bianchi gives a very harsh ride anyway compared to the Specialized Allez but the poor road surface is causing even worse vibrations than usual that are giving me a numb right arm and leg. I’m not going to be able to ride all day like this but fortunately we seem to cross a council line somewhere and the road surface changes and the numbness suddenly disappears.

A miscalculation on my behalf when I glanced at the route on Friday evening had me thinking that it was only 50km to Gravesend but we have already clocked up 50km and are still only at Sevenoaks. Greg tells me that it's actually 50 miles or 80km to Gravesend and I push any doubts to the back of my head. I don’t need negative thoughts this early into a monster ride.

There's a lot of climbing on the A25 and then up a long steep hill at Wrotham but then a fabulous 15km long descent down to sea level at Gravesend puts us back in high spirits again.

We arrive there in good time and head down to the Gravesend-Tilbury ferry at 09:20 a.m. only to find the so-called "ferry every ten minutes" that we were expecting and was a major factor in us taking this route rather than the car/trailer combo at Dartford is not due until 10:05 a.m.: bugger.

Back to the High Street and the rather strange locals recommend Snack Attack as the best local Cafe and after pointing it out to us I smash down a massive sausage and bacon baguette whilst Greg goes for an omelette and toast.

The ferry eventually boards for the circa five minute crossing and we are into the badlands of Essex. It's pretty grim in this part of the world and it's a couple of hours at least until we are heading along Upminster High Street which seems a nice area similar to Epsom, busy but attractive with the added bonus of a tube station and the London Underground network on tap.

I’m also wearing chamois cream today. I don’t normally bother, even for a one of our regular 100-milers to Brighton n back or the London 2 Paris in 24 hours that we tackled earlier this year. But after very little cycle commuting this past three weeks and having to ride the Bianchi I thought it wise and literally slathered it on first thing this morning.

There's plenty of busy A-roads as we plough on and cross into Hertforshire before stopping for water at a newsagents in Potter's Bar. More riding, plenty of countryside and more A-roads, some skirting the M25 and one road that had us heading down the slip road and onto the M25 near 'Snorbens' as I believe the locals refer to it (St. Albans for the uninitiated) before a car hooted us and we realised our error.

A pee-break at King's Langley and then into Buckinghamshire and on into Middlesex. West Drayton and Heathrow are pretty grim but we are past these and soon back onto familiar roads as we reach the final leg.

The secret was not to push too hard, keep on drinking and eating and just spin the legs rather than pushing too big a gear. I must admit that the last 100km/60 miles I was feeling it. We’d done 100 miles/160km already and I could see the route counting down on my Garmin from 100km down to zero but the km’s seemed to be going past very, very slowly. Luckily going anticlockwise we had done most of the climbing in the early stages cos every time the route went vaguely upwards I was struggling, still getting up the inclines but there was no power in the legs at all.

But we’ve done it now, that's 245 km in one day and that’s another one ticked off the list.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


13th October 2015
Maintenance day

Having had trouble with the singlespeed Trek and the chain length (it was too long but when I removed two links to make it two female connectors at each end it was too short) I realised that the potential answer was to just order a smaller rear cog.

So I was back onto Velosolo to order an Andel (S*rly) Cro-Mo Singlespeed 17T Cog to replace the 18T cog that I had previously ordered. This turned up within 24 hours and I spent this evening removing the two additional links I had painfully added back in last week and replacing the 18T with the 17T.

And it's worked. The chain length is perfect and probably doesn't need the chain tensioner on there but I've put it on there just in case there are any issues. I may remove it once I'm happy.

The shortened chainring bolts also turned up from Charlie the Bike Monger and these were fitted within five minutes.

I test rode it on a commuting run on Wednesday 14th, my first ever singlespeed commute after eight years of commuting on geared bikes and it works fine. No slippage and the 50:17 gearing (which is apparently 77.24 gear inches on a 700 x23c) is just right for the relatively flat London commute.

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


 

19th October 2015

Here's an article from our good friends at MTBSpain who we were lucky enough to spend the inaugural week with back in March 2013

The Birth of a MTB Holiday Company


We have all thought at some point... 'HEY, I would
love to be a mountain bike guide...consistently
riding the best trails I know with like minded,
enthusiastic peers'... but is that all there is to it?


Words: Martyn Cassell Pics: James Williams


Two years ago while drinking copious amounts of lager and talking bikes with a mate (like you do), an idea was born, a mountain bike guiding company in sunny Spain.

Spanish Sun
Things always seem easier while drinking lager in front of a log fire and this was no exception. However, come the morning we reigned in the lager induced enthusiasm and again approached the subject, confirming that yes, this may be feasible. We quickly made a list of things in our favour and things that may prove difficult. Surprisingly enough, both lists were roughly equal. Jay had family presently living in the Alicante area which could help with questions about legalities, the airport is only 20 minutes away from where we would be located and we had previously ridden in the surrounding mountains, hence a little knowledge of them was already stored in our memory banks. Naively, riding the crest of enthusiasm, we thought this was a strong start and the rest would just drop into place. Things like transportation of bikes, insurances, guest accommodation, meals....just didn't seem as important....HELL, we were riding our bikes in the Spanish sun! The reality of the hard work to come, getting all the other, not so fun bits in place, was soon to become apparent.


Logistics

Over the next 12 months we proceeded to find transport, build a trailer for uplifting the bikes, source several quality villas to use as accommodation, understand Spanish working laws and predominantly build an arsenal of trails with a wide range of technical difficulties to suit various abilities. Simple things like the quantity of food and the purchasing of food for different guest tastes all became logistical nightmares that needed surmounting. As you can imagine our bank balances and relationships simultaneously came under pressure.

Recce
Finally we reached a point where we needed to try our conceived package out on willing guests. So at a reduced rate we took out 6 of our best riding buddies. We worked on the theory that people book their own flights into Alicante airport and we take care of them from there, dropping them back off a week later for their return flights.

6 days of guided, lift assisted riding
Over 180km of trails
12,500 Metres of descent

Feedback
Now you have to realise that these guys have rode all over the world, Whistler, Morzine, Scotland, Les Arcs just to name a few. Any feedback from them would be of the highest quality and being close riding mates we knew they wouldn't pull their punches. As we expected, certain things at this stage we had gotten right and other things needed more attention. A few of the very positive comments made by the, 'hard to please group members' were:

'World class trail' - in reference to our signature trail Viven's Main, (video on web site)
'Cannot fault the accommodation and evening meals' - reference to our 5 star villa with pool
'Lots of room in the mini-bus'
'I can't feel my hands, take me home' - in reference to the amount of descent done each day.

Details
There were also little things they suggested to help add to the experience, like a cooler in the mini bus to wash down the Spanish dust at the end of each descent, possibly returning to the villa a little earlier to enjoy the pool and evening sunshine. Someone even suggested that we take longer for lunch at one of the many picturesque locations or eating establishments we frequent. All good advice but obviously governed by the group we are riding with at the time.


We've done it
Two years have now passed and although we are still learning we believe we have a winning package. Mistakes will still be made; lessons will still be learnt but... 'HEY, were mountain bike guides, riding the best trails we know, in the Spanish sun!'

For more information visit www.MTBSpain.com

For those of you viewing on Apple/IOS devices there's a whole load of pictures in the blank box below that you are missing out on

 

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Ride Archive

December 2015
November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015
March 2015

February 2015

January 2015








































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all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015

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click to view click to view click to view Steve Neill Big Trev Orange Dave dialled bikes pewter headtube badge Dave and Dave outside LOMAC Dave on Summer Lightning A grinning Trevor Steve (again) Davebus and Neill on Stane Street Jason next to Denbie's vineyard Trevor struggles up the climb Dave followed by Jason on Stane Street Banstead Downs singletrack It was getting dark by the time I got back Richard (that's me!) Surrey Hills logo at the top of Coombe hill Gary dicing with the cars through New Malden Stag party Gary's Giant SCR 2008 model  A cheerful looking Gary part way round Richmond Park speed limits for cyclists! Kingston Gate, Richmond Park view off the side of Headley Heath Bianchi K-Vid carbon forks self-portrait whilst climbing between second and third hairpin on the Zig Zag Road, Box Hill Dave and Mat, the folly, Reigate Hill urban riding, Richard in Ashtead High Street a bit underexposed but a nice shot of the view from the North Downs Way Richard dropping in on Colley Hill No, not the Mediterranean, this is outside LOMAC, Ashtead High Street Richard showing off for the camera Mat and Richard, Stane Street Richard, Headley Heath Mat on Headley Heath Gary with our 'rabbit' in the distance Gary in the dusk Richard Gary chasing the yellow 'rabbit' in the distance Cas Cas Richard 'self-portrait'