Pivot TwentyFour12 2017 – Event video

09-09-2017

The Pivot TwentyFour 12 is my absolute favourite MTB event. This year’s event was wet and muddy, but still a great weekend.

The official video gives just a flavour of what goes on:

Time for a rebuild

03-04-2017

As any proper Land Rover owner knows, the project is never finished and there’s always something to do.   Well, despite looking reasonably good in a photo, my 110 very much falls into the category of “needing work” at the moment.  The bulkhead is in need of repair around the top rails, and was patched up in a few places for the last MOT; the paintwork is starting to get scabby in a few places and the engine has developed an annoying number of leaks.  Add that to the pheasant which took out my windscreen just recently leaving me with a white screen surround (it was the only colour I had lying around) and the poor thing is looking a bit sad.

So, rather than fiddle around, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and do a proper rebuild job.   Over the coming weeks, the plan is to take the vehicle down to the chassis, swap the engine out, replace the bulkhead and give the whole thing a new coat of paint.

I’ve been gathering body panels and other bits for some months so it’s time to get started.

I won’t give away too much at this point, but it won’t be long before the grand plan is revealed!

Hope R2 burn times

12-09-2016

r2i-587x391We’ve been in the market for a new light just recently.  Kate has been looking for something fairly compact to fit her mountain bike for general use.

Now, a couple of years back, having tried lots of the “just as good as that expensive stuff” lights that are about, we decided some time ago that they were a false economy and I bit the bullet and bought myself a Diablo from Exposure and a Hope R8.  This combination has been everything I could want and was money well spent.

Kate didn’t want a separate battery pack so the Diablo was one possibility, and was a known quantity for us but the advent of the Hope R2i gave us an interesting alternative too.   The issue we found with the R2i was that (at the time of writing) there is no information about running times on the Hope website so we couldn’t really do a comparison.

R2 / R2i running times:

So, I got in touch with Hope technical support and got the following info:

Race Sequence:

  • Mode 1 – 400 Lumens – 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Mode 2 – 700 Lumens – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Mode 3 – 1000 Lumens – 1 hour

Trail Sequence:

  • Mode 1 – 40 Lumens – 30 hours
  • Mode 2 – 200 Luments – 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Mode 3 – Flash mode – 11 hours minimum

 

With that info, we could compare the specs with the Diablo.   We’re just trying to get our hands on an actual light at the moment so we can compare the beam quality (lumen ratings are meaningless on paper – the quality of the light output is what matters)

Hopefully this info will be useful to someone until Hope publish the data.

Yeovil Show 2016 – They did it!

21-07-2016

IMG_2180It seemed like an ambitious project:  Decades after the last Yeovil Show came to an end, there was a plan to resurrect it.

These days, it seems you can hardly move for weekend events.  Whether it is the local village fete, a mega car boot, the touring farmers’ market, or the local county show; it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll be able to find something to attend in the summer months.

It takes a brave sort then, to decide to create a new 2-day event in the South West in the middle of July, but that’s what the team at Yeovil Show managed to do.

The work involved in pulling any type of event together is huge.  Even a small village event needs a lot of work, planning and co-operation.   A venture the size of a county show takes this to a whole new level.    The upshot, after months of tireless work was that over the weekend of 16th / 17th July this year, we found ourselves driving into the car park of the reborn Yeovil Show.

It was a great day out:  Very relaxed, and with plenty to see and do.   There was a good selection of stalls, food sellers, livestock and arena attractions.   I’m sure there are some improvements to be made; some of the layout could have been a bit simpler, but these were minor niggles at an otherwise superb event.

I’ll certainly be going back next year.   Take a look at the Yeovil Show website for more info.

I took a bunch of photos at the event.  You can see them here

Taming of the shrew at The Globe

17-06-2016

Aoffe Duffin as Kate

It’s a bit of a departure from the normal waffle I post on here, but we had the pleasure of experiencing the Taming of the Shrew matinee on Saturday and I felt compelled to leave a comment here. It was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time. (If you haven’t seen it yet and you are planning to, you might want to stop reading here).

The first act was comedic, irreverent, and fast-paced. The almost slapstick comedy as the main protagonists’ stories fell into place kept the audience entertained and engaged. Each and every performer played their role without flaw and by the interval, the auditorium felt alive with fun and excitement.

The second act, I can only describe as an ambush; an assault on the audience expectations. The manic, fun-filled pace was torn away from us; replaced with something much darker. The reality of the underlying story was laid out inescapably before us. From the stark change in lighting to the haunting soundtrack; the costume change to the almost tortuous change of pace; there could be little mistaking that what was happening on stage was very wrong, and very dark. The aircraft overhead the open roof of the Globe and the sounds of the river traffic on the Thames somehow disappeared; replaced instead by the captivating interactions on-stage, drawing us ever further into the characters’ lives.

As the play ended and we left the theatre, we both felt very moved by what we had seen. We had experienced joy, anger, concern, humour and empathy. We spent the hours of our journey home discussing our interpretations of the play’s resolution: Questioning how far-departed the intent may or may not have been from the original script; attempting to understand the characters’ state of mind in the final scenes; trying to contextualise the play in our society over the many years since its creation.  It made us think, and even a few weeks on it still does.

The cast and crew of this performance delivered an astonishing piece of theatre with a superb balance of humour and drama. On-stage, the company looked as if they genuinely loved what they were doing and the near-magical quality of the venue was the perfect place to experience it.

Bravo.

 

Taming of the shrew at the Globe Theatre

Image taken from the Globe website.

My Marin frame has died – spectacularly

06-06-2016

It was nothing really.  I was riding up a gentle trail in Scotland and, ‘twang’, my seat suddenly sank 6 inches.
My immediate thought was that the seat rails had broken, or maybe there was a fault with the dropper post.  It was only when I stopped and had a proper look that I discovered something a little more serious!

As you can see from the picture, the seat post on my beloved Mount Vision XM8 had snapped clean through.  I’d never seen anything quite like it before.   I’ve seen welds fail, even the occasional chain stay but for the seat post to fail like this was a total shock.

Obviously it put pay to my ride, and now I’m in the process of trying to get it sorted under warranty.   Marin have a 5 year warranty on full-suspension frames, but given that I’ve changed so many components and essentially got a custom build, I fear that the process won’t end well for me.

So, fingers-crossed, Marin’s UK distributor will be awesome and sort the frame under warranty.   If they aren’t, then it’s basically a few pounds of aluminium scrap and the hunt for a new bike will begin.  If that happens, I might be riding a non-Marin bike for the first time in years 🙁

Marin Mount Vision XM8 broken frame

A bit of fun at Haldon Forest

04-08-2015

Life has felt like a bit of a slog just lately.  I’ve been working long hours to stay on top of things, have been trying to get all kinds of DIY jobs done on the house and trying to get out on the bike and keep some fitness for the just-passed Bontrager TwentyFour12 event.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining, (well maybe a little bit), but it did make me realise recently that I needed to have a bit of stress-free fun.   With that in mind, James and I packed out bikes and clothes into the Land Rover and headed West towards South Devon for a night under canvas and a bit of MTB fun.

James is 8 years old and hasn’t done a lot of mountain biking beyond riding around the farm here, so we decided to head to Haldon Forest near Exeter where there is a good selection of family-friendly trails and facilities.

We camped at Exeter racecourse where there is a Caravan Club campsite.  It’s always fun turning up in an old Land Rover at sites like this; lined with shiny, expensive caravans.  We generally draw a small crowd as we pop up the roof tent and awnings, looking for all intents as if we’re on safari somewhere 🙂    That said, it’s a lovely location; very peaceful and with very helpful wardens.

Because we hadn’t really planned much, we didn’t bring a lot of food with us, so we headed to the ‘Haldon Forest Diner’ next door for something to eat and were pleasantly surprised by the price and portion size!     Heading back to the campsite, we sat and chatted, watching the sun set.

The next morning we were up with the dawn and went for a really nice leisurely ride around the racecourse service road.  It’s about 2 miles around the entire loop, but on smooth tarmac it was just a pleasant plod.   We packed camp and headed across to the other side of the road where the ‘Route 5 Diner’ stands.   It’s an all-American style diner, complete with a Harley Davidson bike in the middle!  The food was superb, and we could both have stayed there all morning, working our way through the various breakfast choices, but the trails were calling.

Haldon Forest is a nice venue.  It’s high up on the top of Haldon hill, so when you are on the trails, there are plenty of panoramic views.  There’s a small cafe, kids play areas, a pump track, a skills course as well as walking and cycling trails.  You have to pay for parking, but that’s it.

With us getting there nice and early, the place was very nearly empty so we unloaded the bikes and I took James around the skills area to give him a couple of tips.  It wasn’t long before he was nailing the hops, berms and landings and really enjoying it.    Haldon has a couple of MTB trails, graded blue and red.  I’ve always thought they were at the tame end of the gradings, but for today that was perfect.  We rode out with the intention of hitting the blue trail, but due to a change in route layout we didn’t find it, following the red route instead.  I was a bit hesistant in letting James loose on the red straight away, but we went over a couple of ground rules and carried on.

As I say, I think the red route at Haldon is more like a ‘blue and a half’, so we pressed on.   I needn’t have worried.  Before too long, James was shredding the berms and hopping through the rock gardens like a pro 🙂   He was sensible on obstacles he’d not seen before, stopping to have a look at them before committing and looking well ahead.

We did have a small heart-stopping moment when James hit a rock with his front wheel, lost his balance and went head-first over the bars onto the ground ahead.   The bike proceeded to flip over after him and land on top.   Thankfully, he got up and brushed himself off.   Just a side-rant here:  The reason he got up and brushed himself off was because he was wearing a helmet.  His head hit the ground, and the bike hit his head; both impacts that would have caused him damage without protection.  Parents:  make sure your kids wear helmets, and make sure you set an example by wearing them too!

 

His little OTB excursion did nothing to dampen James’ spirits and we carried on round the red trail at a respectable pace.   I know plenty of adults who would struggle to keep up.

We spent the rest of the morning playing around in the skills and pump tracks before another lap of the red route, eventually heading home just after lunch.

James has often said he wants to ride more with me, but before now he’s been limited to the local flat trails.  He’s clearly got a lot stronger and quicker in the past 6 months, and I’m happy to say that we’ll be venturing out on some more adventurous trails together from now on.  We both agreed that we need to make a definite effort to get away and have fun more often 🙂

 

 

Time for a new chain

23-05-2015

Giving my bike a quick once over and clean, and it looks like I’m going to be needing a new chain in the very near future.   As you can see from the photo, my trusty Cyclo Tools chain wear guide is sitting right down in the chain on the .75 side, and the 1.00 side is getting close.

It’s not terminal yet, but this chain has seen some action and I’d rather swap it out now than wait for it to snap at the wrong time.

There’s always something!

IMG_20150523_094932

Weldtite Pit Stop Cleaning Kit

10-05-2015

DSCF7107

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the various ranges of Weldtite cleaning and maintenance products, but the Pitstop Cleaning Kit was part of the range I’d never had my hands on.

The bucket contains a selection of useful cleaning bits, all from the various Weldtite brands.

So, what’s in the kit?

 

Dirtwash Bike Cleaner

In a handy little 200ml trigger spray bottle, Dirtwash bike cleaner is a read-to-use cleaning solution for shifting all the muck and grime from your bike.

 

TF2 Lubricant Spray

TF2 lubricant with Teflon is a top-end product for keeping the moving parts on your bike sorted.  The spray comes also comes with a little application tube so you can use it on things like your derailleurs without coating your brake discs in Teflon!

 

Dirtwash Citrus Degreaser Spray

Without doubt, my favourite degreaser of all those available.  Perfect for cleaning up grimy sprockets and chains.  Enough Said.

 

Cleaning tools

To complete the set, the bucket also contains a decent sized sponge, cleaning cloth and a sprocket brush.  The sponge is great for general washing around the frame, the cloth for wiping down things like wheels and for getting in the tighter areas like the rear stays and the sprocket brush makes short work of cleaning the tricky nooks and crannies in your drivetrain.

 

To sum up

The Pitstop Cleaning kit contains a selection of good quality cleaning products.  If you are looking for a nice starter pack then it has a good choice of items.  If you are looking for a gift-idea for a mountain biker, then you can’t go far wrong with the kit.  The bucket is a handy storage box and for between £12 – £20 depending on where you shop, it’s great value.

Just another tip: If you’re on Facebook, it’s well worth liking the Weldtite Facebook Page; They often have competitions and giveaways of the product range

Battery monitoring for the Land Rover

26-03-2015

Arduino Uno board with Sensor Shield and LED displayI’ve been fiddling around with this project for ages, and finally got bored with staring at the blank space in the dashboard of the 110.

So, with a new Arduino board and sensor shield from Hobby Components, and an hour or so of chopping code about, the project is back on track.

Once it’s all done, I’ll post the full details and arduino code but the functionality is pretty simple:

  • Read two battery voltages (one from each battery in the vehicle), apply a bit of smoothing and display them
  • Read a third input, into which a current sensor is connected, to display the alternator charge current
  • Display the temperature from a remote sensor

 

Next on the list will be the external components:  voltage regulator, temperature sensor and current sensor.    This time round, it *will* be finished!