Slime and silt.

8°C, strong SW, Clear start but clouding over.
I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 37.3mi, time: 03:00:08, pace: 4:50min/mi, speed: 12.4mi/h.
Again, rode the cyclocross bike in the strong wind. The fixed gear is daunting on exposed roads like these, an easy decision.
After only three miles, a puncture. By the canal, there was signs of recent hedge trimming, and it was blackthorn. The have especially long thorns that do not know about Challenge Grifo tyres. I have given in to desperation. Eleven punctures in one month, can you blame me? So, I bought Slime inner tubes. Anyway, the puncture. Those tubes have self-sealing goo inside. So I stopped canal-side and got the pump. I blew the tyre back up, and almost unbelievably, it stayed up.
Riding on the beach seemed appealing this morning. Last week it worked well, so why not again?
I will tell you why not, silt. First it gummed up the chain-stays then the gears and finally, it shed the chain. Even the wheels were hard to turn.
There was plenty of driftwood to use. It took quite a bit of prodding before the biggest lumps dropped out. I must have looked like one of those crows doing IQ tests on TV. Well, a florescent crow, you know the ones.
The tyre pressure remained! In fact, I added more for the tarmac section, and return.

This is the rear stays with most of the gunk removed.

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Icey crust below, canal woodpeckers above.

4°C, SW brisk, rain/sleet.
Rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 21.4mi, time: 02:25:57, pace: 6:50min/mi, speed: 8.8mi/h.
Eventful short ride.
Took the reverse canal route from Friday, my own tyre tracks are still there. The tyres broke a crispy thin ice on puddles and mud. After only 3 miles though, two punctures, both thorns. I then went to a cafe to warm up and patch the tubes.
Another cyclist suggested Slime Tubes, it’s got to be worth trying.
Later, headed towards Cannock Chase through Armitage. That’s where the rain started.

Then, something strange. Riding under a low bridge, I had to duck down against the bars. But on emerging, suddenly ouch a stiff back- I pulled a muscle. That decided it, turn home. That’s when the sleet came down and wind picked up. So I put my head down and slogged on. Woodpeckers must live near canals, one sounded very close. There were also many dogs to give way to. Will it get too busy to use these routes in the summer?
With a wind like this, there should be a good draw on the fire at home. Though the miles are low, I looked forward to a warm log fire.

The patches held.

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7C, hail showers, sun too.
Started cutting the cherry tree. It’s sad to do this to a beautiful tree but it’s growing into telephone wires and I don’t want to be liable.
Since its quite a big job, I have only cut the branches that affect the wires today If there’s time tomorrow, I will finish the rest. My main hope is that it doesn’t kill the tree.

My camellia appears to be using last year’s calendar.


Single camellia in February.

It’s a buzz to work in the garden all day. Dodging the hail showers was not troublesome and I got a good workout chopping logs.

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Canal gloop.

I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 18.9mi, time: 02:15:16, pace: 7:10min/mi, speed: 8.4mi/h.
Yesterday’s rain is soaking slowly into saturated ground. It’s deepest by gates and stiles where walkers have trod. These cycling shoes didn’t let me down. The only skid was on a wooden bridge all covered in slimy moss.

The best bit was along a bridle path towards Wychnor. It looks like cattle land, though none were visible. Most of it was wet but rideable. Crossing points were deep mud, which on flat ground is more stable.
Weather looks unfavourable tomorrow.
Only 18 miles but it felt like more.

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Ribble Estuary nature reserve.

I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 60.5mi, time: 05:35:56, pace: 5:33min/mi, speed: 10.8mi/h.
Had a grand day out in Lancashire. Saw many kestrels and oyster-catchers. That area by the Ribble estuary is utterly beautiful. In today’s light, it couldn’t look better.

To the right, farmland, and left is a nature reserve. That’s where the oyster-catchers were in huge numbers, and other flocks that I didn’t recognise. On the north west horizon was Blackpool Tower; north, Lake District; and east, the Pennines.
I don’t really know how to compare the day’s ride with one on the road. 60 miles in five and a half hours is quite slow, but this wasn’t on tarmac. Riding cross is perhaps less demanding of the legs, but takes far more concentration.

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Fixed sixty.

I rode fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 60.0mi, time: 03:54:58, pace: 3:55min/mi, speed: 15.3mi/h.
Spring soon. Rode familiar routes on the road at the best pace so far this year. Winter seems to be drawing to a close with all the usual clues appearing about now.


Only drag is another puncture, again, a thorn. Eight flats in six weeks.

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Review: Kona Jake 2015

Kona Jake, 61cm. 2015.
One month on, and it’s time to summarise my experience so far.


Kona Jake, first outing.

Fit: it’s big, but I need that. The choice was narrowed down to a cross bike with disc brakes and mud-guard bolts. This is not the biggest Jake, the catalogues list up to 63cm which must be huge. At 6’4″, I have always needed a large frame and reach has been a particular problem. That is why my first two bikes were custom made. Off the peg at the time, it was only possible to get 22.5inch top-tube bikes. Many famous brands made all their frames with the same top-tube, regardless of frame size. The 61cm fits me well.
Handling: it all seems natural to me. Squelchy surfaces are new to me, and I don’t mind admitting to some nervousness. That’s my weakness not the bike. My nerve and judgement is getting better with each ride. Once I have fallen off, I can truly say the bike is christened. However, the canal water looks very cold, so don’t the first tumble better not be into the drink.
Weight : with the bottle and seat pouch removed, it’s 10.57 Kg. About the same as my steel 8 speed racer.
Brakes: at first, it needs a lot of pull to stop hard but once a hundred miles were done, they became excellent. The cables don’t need to be all that tight, unlike the setup by the shop. After loosing them off, the braking is sensitive and subtle with the option to weigh anchor if necessary .
So far so good, the only problem is the brake calipers. They are quite wide so my heel catches on the rear brake sometimes. Once I have paid the last installment, I will change them. Bikes with rear brakes mounted on the seat-stay won’t have this problem, but their owners will struggle to fit a rack.

Hayes brake calipers stick out too far.

wheels and tyres: not light, the rear complete is 2.2Kg. They seem do strong and the tyres grip well on soft muddy trails. The only real frustration is the large number of punctures. In first 120 miles ridden so far, 7 punctures. 5 were caused by thorns, the remaining two were snakebites. Soft grass and mud can conceal a deflating tyre which is probably how the tubes got pinched in those cases.
Gears: 10 on the back (11-30) and a double chainset (50-36). The Tiagra change reasonably well but one cog is slow to click down. That cassette is huge, 11-30 and is probably heavy (see above).
In future I will fit road wheels which will have higher ratios. Perhaps 11-25 would be more realistic. This way, if I fancy some muddy fun, then it’s only a quick swap away.
Overall, I am having tremendous fun and probably building handling skills. Without a doubt, a fine 50th birthday present to myself.

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Towpaths and punctures.

5°C, lighter, calm.
Unwanted side-effect, punctures. Just patched the tube that went down yesterday, it had two holes and needed two patches. One was a snakebite, probably from the moment the nail punctured and pinched the rim against the road. It’s not so obvious that the tyre is going soft on soft round.
In the meantime, both tyres on the bike have gone soft overnight.. At least two more punctures!
That averages out at nearly two per ride. Sigh.
Tyre liners, change tyres or some of that goo that seals from the inside? What’s the best idea?

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Dense fog.

4°C, dense fog, no ice.
Rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 38.9mi, time: 03:32:00, pace: 5:27min/mi, speed: 11.0mi/h.
Horrible day for a road ride. Dense milky fog and cold. On the route to the canal start I crossed a few small groups of roadies.


My conclusion from today is that cx rides are quite viable when otherwise I would have to return home. Canal towpaths, though a place to pick up punctures, are much safer than the road in poor visibility.
In all, I probably clocked up about 5 miles on tarmac. Just as well because the surfaces were so greasy and slippery.


Today’s puncture was a nail, not quite what I expected on a canal but at least it happened near the end.

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A good problem to have.

5°C, dry with white clouds. Light NW, salty roads.
Decision, which bike to take today. What a fine problem to face when you have two.

Rode fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 18.9mi, time: 01:11:22, pace: 3:47min/mi, speed: 15.9mi/h.

Quick blast on white salty roads. No frost, but good conditions.

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