Category Archives: Rides

Well, That Cleared The Sinuses!

Chilly, Muddy, Fun Saturday Ride

While the weather and the short evenings have been keeping us indoors, I’ve been planning a new 10 mile loop in an attempt to stop me heading for Hollingworth Lake on autopilot every time I get my bike out.

Playing with Map My Ride, I worked out a new loop via Milnrow using mainly traffic-free trails, with the intention of trying it out alone to see if I can take the family on some or all of it once the warmer weekends begin.

It was cold on Saturday, but it was dry so nothing was going to stop me going out.  My first little job was to attach my shiny new Phone Mount to the handlebars, but there was a problem…

… the handlebars on my new Fat Boy are, erm, Fat. So the phone mount wouldn’t slip onto them.  As a result I had to put it onto the bar ends.  Now, this doesn’t look very cool and it probably isn’t very safe.  All it’ll take is one clout into a fencepost and my new phone will go for a Burton’s.  So, following Jon’s advice, I’m going to invest in a Topeak T Bar to mount some of my cockpit instrumentation.  I’ll let you know how that goes when I get it.

But, back to the ride.  After botching the phone onto the bar ends, I set off on the short road to Milnrow carrying 3 layers of tops, my trusty Ron Hills under MTB shorts, a Buff around my ears and my Sealskinz waterproof gloves.  With the wind shut out, I was smiling from ear to ear as I joined the traffic-free tracks across Kingsway Business Park.  Back on the roads, the climb up Broad Lane wasn’t fun and I have to admit to a 5-minute rest at the bridge over the motorway.  A quick burst from Crompton to Oldham Road was the last bit of road riding before heading up Thornham Old Road, a muddy, snowy, puddly bit of trail that was brilliant fun on the cold day.  My nostrils were well and truly cleared by the time I reached the top of that hill, and I was glad I wasn’t in refined company as I left a trail of snot in my wake 😉

Next was a blast down towards Castleton through icy puddles, mud and the walking slalom gates of Saturday strollers.  A brief rest at Slattocks Lock on the Rochdale Canal for a drink was well needed, before the final 3 mile towpath (mudbath) ride home.

The loop can be seen on Map My Ride by clicking the map below.  Go on, have a look and connect with me there, too! 🙂

A Head Full Of Mucus

It’s Day Two of This Cold.

The snot monsters are winning the fight at the moment. This is, officially, Not Good News. Tomorrow is my fortnightly Day To Myself (Capital D, capital T, capital M) and that means playing out on my Focus Fat Boy. However, with the snot monsters in the ascendancy I need to make sure I’m kitted out properly.

Snot-Busting Cycling Gear.

The plan is to try out a new 10 mile loop, mostly easy off-road stuff, but in this bobbins North-Western weather we’re enjoying there are a few recent purchases I’ll be testing.

  • Sealskinz Waterproof Cycling Gloves, bought for £20 from Winfields
  • Ron Hill Running Tights, £15 , also from Winfields
  • Karrimor Long Sleeved Cycling Top, £11 from Sports Direct (or whatever Mike Ashley’s shops are called this week) – the picture shows my Decathlon short sleeved top but it’s too cold for that one
  • DHB Base Layer, £20 from Wiggle

I suspect the biggest test will be the snot-catcher strips on the thumbs of the gloves.

Winter Cycling Gear

Some of the winter gear I’ll be wearing tomorrow.

This lot should keep me warm for an hour, don’t you think?  I’ll let you know how they do.

First Fat Boy Ride


To quote a friend, it felt like someone had stuck a motor to my back wheel!

I arrived home on Tuesday, excited, after having left my new bike in the front room on my lunch break.  We’d had a slight interruption since my Other Half’s car had shorted itself and broken down on the way home, but thankfully her Dad had resurrected the beast and got it home, whilst I was stuck at a Golf Club setting up seminar gear.  Thank goodness for Dads.

Fitting the pedals and checking the relevant buts & bolts were all tightened up didn’t take long.  Neither did fitting the front & back blinkyflashy lights, and the front headlight torch.  At 8.45pm I was ready to go:

All dressed up and somewhere to go

All dressed up and everywhere to go!

I set off for a quick loop to test him out.  Into Milnrow the  road’s pretty flat, even slightly downhill, so that part was easy.  My quads burned a little so I pulled the seat up an inch: sorted.

I would never, ever, have thought about climbing Kiln Lane on my old Haro.  The foolhardy part of me said “go on son, you can do it” so I turned left and went for it.  Foolhardy is the word!  There’s no way on God’s good Earth that I’m climbing that hill at the moment, but I did get a lot higher than I ever have before!  What a bike.  It felt wonderful going up that steep hill.

Along Wildhouse Lane I played with the gears, which had been set up perfectly by either Focus or the people at Wiggle.  Whoever it was, thank you.  A quick burst alongside Hollingworth Lake admiring the light playing along the water, before descending down to the canal and I was a happy chappy.

Back along the canalside was, erm, interesting.  It was pitch black and although the new front light meant I could see ahead, I couldn’t quite pick out the half-completed surface that I’m paying for through my Sustrans subscription!  Some was finished (which was lovely to ride on); some was untouched (which was ok but muddy); some was partially done (which was like riding through treacle).  After a mile of alternating mud, smooth and treacle, the surface got a bit more predictable.  The canal was freezing over and the sound of my new Schwalbe Racing Ralphs crunching through ice-covered puddles was music to my ears.

What a ride.  I love my new bike!

View First Ride New Bike Feb 2010 in a larger map

Here He Is! Focus Fat Boy 2010

My new bike was delivered this morning.  I was in a meeting, talking about Terms & Conditions at the time.  I came downstairs to be greeted by the curious smiles of my colleagues and a huge cardboard box with “wiggle” written on it.

I’m going to have to refer to this bike as a “he”, because he’s called Fat Boy.  So, here he is:

My shiny new Fat Boy

My Shiny New Fat Boy

The wow factor for me was noticing that I have a remote lock-out on the forks, which I can activate from the handlebars.  That little extra has made me a very happy man!  I’m so easily excited 🙂

Unfortunately, I’m taking a load of seminar gear to a Golf Club this afternoon, for a seminar we’re delivering tomorrow morning.  This means that I have to rush my new friend home in the car, get back and start packing our stuff.

Tonight’s job will be to stick the handlebars & pedals on and get out there in the rain to test him out.  I’ll let you know how we do.

What do you think of him so far?

Sad Loss, Happy Beginnings? New Bike Bought

A Sad Loss…

I’ve been agonising for a while about my lovely old Haro.  She’s been complaining and displaying all the signs of her old age.  A couple of months ago I took her wheels in to be trued and they couldn’t do it.  At that point I began to accept that her days were drawing to a close.

So, it is with a heavy heart and a much lighter wallet that I have to tell you I’ve ordered a new companion.  This weekend’s ride will be my last on my trusty Haro.

Haro Escape 7.0, My companion for the last 10 years.

RIP My Faithful Haro Friend, Out To Pasture After 10 Years

The frame’s still bombproof, but the wheels, brakes and bottom bracket are knackered.  I’ll pass it on to some deserving soul or put it on Freecycle, unless anyone has any better ideas…?

…A Happy Beginning?

I’m a bit scared.

I’m a bit scared of how easy it was to spend my money with Wiggle.   I simply used the affiliate link from Fight Bad Driving and was logged into my Wiggle account automatically.  The bike I’ve chosen was already on my wish list so, what seemed like 4 nanoseconds later, I was looking at the “Thank You From Wiggle” screen and experiencing early-onset-post-purchase-dissonance.

Here’s the beast:

My new pearly-white steed.

Focus Fat Boy 2010, My New Steed

Why A Mountain Bike?

I thought long and hard about getting a road bike, but I need a family-friendly ride.  We live alongside a canal so we ride as a family along the towpath, regularly.  Everyone else has an offroad-style bike: even the young girls have fat tyres.

The roadie option was to buy a decent road bike, then get my Haro updated with some inexpensive new wheels and a new bottom bracket for the family rides.  This would’ve cost the wrong side of £100 on top of a new roadie for sure.  Shed room would also have been an issue.

So, the MTB won the day this time.

Why The Focus?

I’ve read reviews on Focus’ road bikes and MTBs, from last year and this year.  Focus bikes are German, and those Germans are pretty good at engineering, whatever you say about their sense of humour.  Wiggle are selling a lot of their bikes (which must be a good sign, surely) and the more recent reviews have been very good.  On the 2009 models, it seemed that they were trying to cut costs by providing lower-priced components.  OK, this year’s Fat Boy is £100 more than last year’s, but the components are good.

Oh, and I loved the paint job.  How cool is it? Really? I mean, How Cool is THAT?  I’m a sucker for a nice white frame, me. 🙂

Let me know what you think … and if you know any good cause that’d benefit from a Haro Escape 7.0 which squeaks a bit, let me know.

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