Monday, 22 June 2009

behind the seat

Yesterday was the first time I had the nerve to hang off behind the seat on some steeper stuff since getting this bike. As I hadn't done this in over half a year, I found it terrifying as I headed past the point of no return, then hugely exhilarating. A good working definition of 'adrenaline inducing', and a major draw of mountain biking. As long as you don't go over the bars at the end or smash your genitals into the seat, Good Times!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

almost two weeks off

I didn't bike for almost two weeks- weather, work and visiting family conspired against me. I went eight months without biking, and now that I've started up again two weeks felt like a thousand years. Strange.

Handlebar observation:
I like the handlebars on my bike. They're On-one Mary bars. I first heard of these when they were mentioned on fatcyclist. At the time I remember thinking they looked really stupid. They came stock on the bike though, and I thought I'd give them a shot before inevitably swapping them out. Turns out they work for me really well; neat! While I generally prefer riding mountains to roads, the variety of hand positions on road bars is really something wonderful. I used to get hand numbness with my almost-flat mountain bars. Not on these things- very comfortable for longer hauls, pretty agile in tight stuff, and positioned well to haul on when mashing up a hill. I am a convert.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

sunday singletrack

First, a picture from my Monday commute- some kids feeding gulls with the Tay railbridge in the background. I have a feeling this will prove to have been one of the nicest days all summer. I checked my seat position and it was in about the most ridiculous combination of fore/aft and pitch adjustment that it could have been, and I think fixing that solved my knee problem. I was hammering it pretty hard on some hills since then and no pain.

I shoved the bike into the car and headed north from town today to hit some singletrack. My first real off road riding in months, and it was fantastic. Great views, ok weather (got sprinkled on), ended up lost in a flock of sheep for a while, and got scared silly by a grouse that I almost ran over. About all you could ask for on your introduction to Scottish mountain biking.

The hills were a challenge- on my geared bikes it would have been no problem, but on the singlespeed I was a hurting unit after the first big climb. I had to hike a couple more spots than I would have liked, but that gives me something to shoot for over the next few months. Eventually I got in a groove and the familiar feelings came back- a bit of searing in the lungs and some lead in the legs, but massive satisfaction at the top. It's also definitely a different game with no suspension- smoother lines or less speed, apparently. A view from the last big descent today- the route description just said 'work your way down the hill', and this was sort of a path. You could argue against this, but you'd be wrong.

Friday, 5 June 2009

not quite so long this time

Monday morning I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat and a bad attitude (up a lot at night with a screaming baby). I had been planning on biking in but wasn't really in the mood, but the weather was gorgeous enough that I felt obligated to get over it and saddle up. I'm glad I did- who knows how many days will be that nice. I overcooked it a bit though on my knee, it was pretty tender for a while. I think I might be sitting a bit behind where I should be- 40 miles of commuting may not be the best way to dial in a new bike, but what are you going to do?

Random observations of my commute:
I should probably invest in some energy bars just to have one in my bag. I don't think they have Cliff bars here, which is a shame. If I'm far enough along the bonking path to want an energy bar, nothing tastes better than a Cliff bar.

There is a bike elevator that takes you up to the street level of the Tay bridge on the Dundee side. Riding in this elevator is much more fun to me than it should be.

Every time I've crossed the bridge, I've seen at least a couple of other bikers that have the look of commuters. By the time I get half a mile further along the Fife coastal path, there's no one else and I have yet to see another person on a bike between Tayport and St Andrews. Obviously not a well traveled commuter trail. I've seen a few people biking on the tantamount-to-suicide route when I drive in, but I'm not sure where the rest of these people disappear to.

In the pleasant forest bit, I found a path that is both a shortcut and two miles of singetrack. How sweet is that. It's dead flat except for 100 meters and there's no technical challenge, but on a commute? Awesome. There are a couple of other, shorter sections on the side of the main trail or road that I can hit- I think of them as singletrack treats.

I'm really happy to be biking again.