This is a flat bar.
And this is a drop bar.
And this is my problem (one of, there are many). I don’t really like drop bars, there I said it. I have almost always ridden mountain bikes, with flat or riser bars, drops feel weird and for anything other than long road rides are a bit of a handful. To get decent braking power you have to get down “in the drops” which limits your ability to move your weight fore and aft, you’re committed to a predominantly front wheel weighted stance and on a few of the trails we rode on the test ride the other day, it felt like my neck was going to separate from my shoulders trying to keep looking down the trail and applying enough brake to stop myself firing off into the trees or dry stone walls at high speed. There is a reason cyclocross races are an hour long and relatively flat, because riding drops off road is purgatory when any kind of gradient is introduced.
The second mark against drop bars is that they don’t really help with singlespeed mashing, when you’re riding up a hill in too big a gear and heaving on the bars to try and make the next turn of the cranks possible. For this, they blow.
The final death to drop bars is weight, a simple flat bar is always going to be lighter than drops (made of an equivalent material), same goes for the required style of brake levers. So in summary I can shed a few grams, not shatter my vertebrae, have better control on the descents and climb better. This is a win, win, win, win situation. There may be people out there that would prefer a drop bar for this ride but they probably have a) gears and b) shaved legs. So my long suffering flat bars will be fitted this week, hopefully along with the Clement MSO tyres which I’m hugely looking forward to.
It’s been a slack week, no riding so far, things to do.
But I’ve started to build up the Ibis Tranny again, it’s a bit scruffy now after four years of riding but it’s still my favourite bike and I reckon it’ll be my main bike this summer.
Will get back on a bike tomorrow, whatever the weather.
Beautiful day today in Peebles and pretty much blue sky as far as the eye could see as we set off for a recce ride of the Peebles-Balerno-Peebles route. In order to give ourselves a fighting chance on the day we rode the route to Carlops and back, about two thirds of the entire distance and the sections that we will most likely be completing in the dark. The only unknown on the route now is the ascent of the Pentland hills and they are the last big barrier before a relatively easy finish to the first leg. A number of things were learned…
The Continental winter tyres are great for ice and snow but are as draggy as RuPaul. Can’t wait to get the Clement MSO’s on there.
Ride with caution on the downhills, especially ones that end at sheep fields or you (i.e. me) will find yourself fixing a snakebite puncture surrounded by, and knee deep in, sheep shit. It’s a long way and self inflicted mechanicals are stupid.
Don’t leave home with spare tubes that have valve stems that aren’t quite long enough to clear Rolf Prima deep section rims.
38x18 is going to be a tough gear in places, but hopefully shedding a pound of weight in tyres when the Clements go on will help.
And finally, layer your bib shorts and longs the right way round. Jake made a serious tactical error and if someone starts to talk about Paceline Chamois Butt’r after 30km you know they’re in trouble.
All important things and good to know before we set off at 5am one March morning.
I like to think that I do a passable impression of a mountain biker. I can pass comment on wheel sizes, I can string a sentence together along the lines of “Yeah, but you know the issue with single pivots and isolation of braking forces, right?” And I can do that roll your eyes thing when people rightfully claim “you could have had a car for that!”
But one thing I really don’t do very well is recover properly after a ride. I get back from a pedal, hose down the bike (and myself given the Scottish weather) before getting clean and putting on some warm clothes and cradling a cup of tea. Then, at some point I might think about having something to eat. At that point I become really aware that I have just buried myself to get up the climbs but I’m not getting as much back for that effort as I should. I’ve been singlespeeding for almost six years, I shouldn’t be able to fit my thighs in regular size jeans, I should be buying “Sprinter Cut” chino’s just able to contain my stupendous girth. But no. This has not yet happened.
Now while I’m aware that some people just don’t add that much bulk (I believe Nairo Quintana has exactly the same issue) I do feel the effects of not refuelling properly the next day. That is my nemesis - the ride after the ride the day before. So in an effort to try and get a bit of discipline and reap the rewards of hauling a heavy singlespeed 29er up the climbs this winter I’m trialling this…
So, it’s called Osmo Acute Recovery. And unusually for a recovery drink, it’s actually nice. It almost tastes like vanilla ice cream which is a great because you want to drink it, especially if it’s mixed with almond milk as Osmo suggest. After a long term test of one week I have noted the following; it hasn’t made me rush to the bathroom in sphincter clutching desperation, I haven’t had to steel myself to face it after a ride and I do seem to be less fatigued the next day. And Peter Sagan uses Osmo, so I’m expecting it to help with wheelies as well.
For 2014 I’ve decided to do a couple of races and set out a couple of other goals for the year so my riding has a bit of structure about it. One of the first is Peebles-Balerno-Peebles, the plan is to set out from Peebles with Jake, our 2pure warranty guru, on a workday morning. Ride the 40km over singletrack, gravel forest roads, tarmac and doubletrack to Balerno on the western fringes of Edinburgh. Do a relatively honest days work and ride the same route home. 80km in total, 5500ft of climb and a days work.
A lot of this ride will come under a new’ish niche, Gravel Riding. Which as far as I can tell is basically a sport for roadies who don’t want to be mown down by cars but by tractors or quad bikes instead. A quick google suggests that this all started in the USA, where they have miles and miles of ultra quiet gravel just waiting for somebody to set a trend on. So Jake and I will be trend setting between Eddleston and that bit near Leadburn sometime in late March, don’t bother coming to watch as we’ll be travelling too fast for photographs and autographs.
A “Gravel Road” - sometime yesterday
My bike will be my Surly Steamroller with a few alterations; geared down to cope with the climbs, Clement MSO tyres for fast rolling speed but gravel road toughness and the original fork back on to allow the bigger tyres. Gravel Road Super Style. Jake is building up a Monster-Cross (a niche before Gravel Bikes, Endurance-Road and Fixies) style Singular Peregrine, which, when complete, will change the polarity of the Earth such is its mass. Hill Walkerists, adjust your compasses.