Hope R2 burn times


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!


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


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.



Taming of the shrew at the Globe Theatre

Image taken from the Globe website.

My Marin frame has died – spectacularly


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


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


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!


Weldtite Pit Stop Cleaning Kit



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


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!

Filtering a Magento product collection by multiple categories


Magento LogoWell, that’s a bit of a mouthful but it’s also been the bane of my existence for the past few hours.  I’ve been building a little widget to allow product data to be embedded in a CMS page with various options for selecting the products that are included.

The difficulty I’ve been having is filtering a product collection by category.  Now, if you just want a single category, it’s not too bad.  You can load a category collection or filter a product collection with Magento’s addCategoryFilter() method.  The trouble comes when you want to find products from more than one category.

There’s all sort of solutions on the web, many of them don’t work on the more recent versions of Magento, others throw errors if you have products in more than one category.   After a lot of faffing about, I got this working.  I wanted a solution which didn’t involve a lot of raw SQL, so hopefully it will be at least a little future-proof.   It works in Magento 1.9, so it should be OK in 1.7 and 1.8 too I’d have thought.


I’m putting on here partly so it’s available to anyone else in the same position but also so I can find it easily if I need to do it again and have forgotten how 🙂


First of all, we build the product collection in the normal way.  What you select and how you filter it may change of course.

$collection = Mage::getModel('catalog/product')->getCollection()
 ->addAttributeToFilter('status', 1)
 ->addAttributeToFilter('visibility', 4)

Now, in order to be able to filter against the categories, we need to join a different model.  We have a simple array of category numbers, and we first need to build the conditions for the query:

$catfilters = array(10, 20, 25);  //Obviously your category ids will be different
$conditions = array();
foreach ($catfilters as $categoryId) {
 if (is_numeric($categoryId)) {
  $conditions[] = "{{table}}.category_id = $categoryId";

Now we’ve got the conditions sorted out, we can add the syntax to join the category model and add the ‘DISTINCT’ operator to the collection too so that we avoid duplicates.

->joinField('category_id', 'catalog/category_product', null, 'product_id = entity_id', implode(" OR ", $conditions), 'inner');


That should be it.   You can now iterate over the collection with a foreach() or whatever you like.


Hope that helps someone 🙂

Off Camber XC MTB Race – Round 2


Photo by Dean Frost

It barely seems like a month ago that I rode in the first round of the Off Camber XC MTB race series, but true enough round 2 had arrived.

The weather had changed a lot in the past few weeks, going from late Summer warmth to heavy Autumn rain; something I suspected was going to make the event a lot more tricky out on course.

On the morning of the event I was feeling really tired, almost tired enough that I didn’t go.  I also didn’t have the right state-of-mind, with a bit of a “can’t be arsed” feeling about the whole day.    All that said, I decided that I should pull my finger out and get over to the event.  There are very few decent MTB events in the local area so it’s important to make the most of them.

I arrived at the event in plenty of time and got myself registered, etc.  The format was pretty much exactly the same as round 1, although there was a short extra loop added.  From what we were told, the course was in good condition but was very wet which meant that especially in the forest sections, we’d need to be vigilant as tree roots can be a nightmare.

Despite the recent bad weather, we had a bright morning for the actual event.  There were just over 70 riders in attendance, so it was once again quite busy on the starting line.     As we set off, I tried to shake off my lethargy and headed out for the first ascent.  It didn’t work.

Not to put too-fine a point on it, I really didn’t enjoy the race.   My fatigue made all the climbs slow and tortuous.  I couldn’t get into a proper rhythm on the downhill sections.  The root-strewn sections which I’d previously ridden with gusto became a full-on battle with the bike.   By about half way round the first lap, I had half a mind to just coast back and call it a day.    During round 1, there was a climb which hurt me every time.  It was near the end and was a short-sharp hill up to the top of the last descent.   Part of the new loop that had been added to the course actually dropped us further down the hill, making this last climb even longer.

I slogged my way up it, trying to stay positive but by the time I’d reached the top I was hurting.    I attacked the last technical stage of the course as best I could, determined to get some enjoyment out of the lap and managed to pick up a bit of speed, even gaining on the guys ahead.   The tyres on the bike were working well in the wet conditions and I had a fair bit of confidence in the singletrack.  As I rattled down through the rock garden at the end of the lap, I made the decision to knuckle-down and carry on.

By this point, I was pretty much riding on my own.  The nature of the course means that you do play cat-and-mouse with people and as before I was getting left behind on the climbs and catching people on the descents,but I just wasn’t quick enough to make any difference to my overall position (which at this point I figured must be about last).   I could see from my GPS that my lap times were hopeless, nearly 10 minutes per lap slower than in Round 1.   I stopped pushing myself too hard and settled down to try and enjoy what was left of the lap.  I’d pretty much resigned myself to not carrying on for the last lap of the event.

Towards the end of my second lap, the inevitable happened and one of the race leaders caught and lapped me.  Funnily enough, I was neither surprised or that disappointed.   It meant that when I finished my lap, the race was over and I knew that I’d performed so badly that very little pride was left anyway 🙂     The guys at the top of the table have incredible fitness.  Even when I was on better form in Round 1 they were lapping 8-10 minutes quicker than most of us.  This time round, that 8-10 minutes had turned into 15-20 minutes faster, and that means that they completed their three laps in the time it took me to complete two.


By the time I’d got back to the Land Rover, I’d had about enough.  It had been a tough morning and I hadn’t enjoyed it.    Looking back it’s not much better but I’m still glad I went.  Even the bad rides are better than no rides at all.

When the results came out, I was placed 44th out of 56.  Could have been worse I guess.  Hopefully Round 3 will be better.