Sunday, 29 November 2009

Wanted: garage space

I love my bikes. But bath time is really beginning to p**s me off.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Something for the weekend? Er ...

Who said mountain biking was sexist? Thank god for Cosmo magazine's hall of fame and one Mr Gee Atherton, ably putting paid to such thoughts and replacing them with something much more interesting. I know it's from February, but we all need something to brighten up those winter nights. Careful where you put that saddle love.

Friday, 27 November 2009

My goodies, oh my goodies!

So the big G are running a gallery today of things cyclists may want for Christmas. If you can spot the two I added in then you win, well nothing but hey ho. Life's a bummer sometimes.

Needless to say the two I did add in are the best of the bunch - I'm not sure when any self-respecting MTBer would need a red spotty cycle cover but it takes all sorts and hey, I'm not judging. But it has inspired me to create my own Christmas list which I shall add to over the next few weeks despite my mother's 'no pressies this year' plea. Silly lady.


Yes they have diamante on them and yes this will make me go faster. Obvs. Besides, can you show me a girl who doesn't want to sparkle while she hauls ass down a mountain? Thought not. 'Ace' gloves by Troy Lee


It's carbon, it's gold, it's £774.96 for the full set by my calculation. But it's also the SRAM XO drivetrain and as far as I'm concerned that's rad. Here's the bumpf from Sram: 'the X.0 system performs with distinction [as do I - natch]. Our superior 1:1 actuation ratio paired with a NEW super-tough carbon and aluminum cage design results in durability and performance.' Totally feeling that dude.


It's a new rave helmet! Wahoo! I have nothing more to add. Hex helmet by Giro £53.99


I am an absolute sucker for Park Tools. I know, I know, they are twice as expensive as any other brand. But I used to work in PR and I bow deeply to the people behind the brand who have somehow, against all odds, made bike tools cool. I mean, check this out: a bottle opener, that looks like some sort of spanner. Genius. I have lusted after their BBQ set for years but I reckon mum will sway with this bottle opener as it's compatible with all brands of beer and she loves an icy bottle of San Mig.
Park Tools bottle opener £7.99


Attack the pack goddammit! No seriously attack it. I can't I'm bonking. Bonkity bonk bonk. But still. It's a nice sentiment and if I wore this tee at least people would still see me when I cross the finish line after the sun has set. Morvelo t-shirt, £20

I'd also really like a Thermos flask and a Jamie Oliver in USA cook book.
What's on your list?

Friday, 20 November 2009

There's wisdom in them there hills

I go to college after work every Wednesday night (because I'm trying to improve myself, natch) and on Wednesday I was talking to my friend Nkone about Michael Foucault. I admit, I brought him into the conversation but I maintain it was valid. She was feeling really negative about stuff, nasty people having too much power over her life and making her miserable. I said: 'Hey Nkone, you ever heard of Foucault and his web of power?' and she said: 'No - enlighten me!' So I said: 'Essentially it's the idea that things were not always as they appear to you today and that they can be changed, even at the lowest level so that they will be something different tomorrow. You may not feel like you have the power to influence your life or situations but, dear friend, you do.'
Once she had got over my demonstration of immense intelligence (note the sarcasm), she gasped, awe-struck: 'But how do you regain power over situations where people are crowding you out and making you feel negative?'
And I said: ' I ride my bike.'

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Cyclocrossing the universe, on the starship enterprise ...

Well it's a Peugot Partner actually and I didn't exactly cyclo-cross the universe so much as cough up half a lung and withdraw after two and a half laps. Still, what a ride! The course at Stanmer Park near Brighton was really enjoyable - having been off a bike for so long, reaquainting myself with mud and corners while astride a bike with a very non-MTB standover height was interesting. As soon as I remembered not to use my brakes and approach each corner in the manner of a BMX bandit, things got better.

But eight weeks off the bike has taken its toll and I was cataclysmically unfit, despite the knee (touchwood) holding up and a nice new NS Bikes stem on Jake making him kinder on the back (and a lot stiffer, grrr). It's a nice project now though, slowly increasing the mileage back up to the start and then some. Going to race down in Penshurst on Sunday to keep things ticking over. And at least the storm had abated long enough to drink tea without being swept away. Well done to Phil and the boys at Morvelo who proved that skin suits are really quite special and make you go fast. Er ...

Bikes rock. I am super stoked to be back in the game. Even if I am last.

p.s. I would like to point out that EVERYONE was pushing their bikes up that incline in the photo, not just me. Fact.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A cycling round up - and not a lasso in sight

Look a picture! Me on White's Level by Tom Humpage

Here's the latest from me on cycling bits and bobs for the Guardian. Get in touch if there's stuff you think should be flagged up - all I need is a vague travel angle which let's face it isn't hard when the whole point about cycling is to moooooove.

And on a vain note - I have just taken delivery of two delicious tops and two gorgeous bottoms (natch) courtesy of which I shall be modelling at the Brighton round of the 'Cross series this weekend. Back and knee trouble? Pah! I laugh in your face. A review will obviously follow but I'm not sure I'll be able to say a lot more than simply: 'Mud. in. My. Eye.'

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Not a post for the boys ...

The only way I am sure I am a writer is because I am consistently and unfalliably wracked with doubt that I can't write. Or at least can't write half as well as pretty much everyone else. Take for example bike blogs. At the moment I'm enjoying one by a lady in Juneau, Alaska called Up in Alaska. Jill writes about her cycling in extreme weather conditions, climbing mountains after work and she takes beautiful pictures to go with them. You can absolutely feel the chill air, or the driving rain and ultimately every post leaves me feeling like for a brief five minutes I was staring at Denali and and not picking chewing gum off the sole of my Converse as I skid to Kings Cross through a sea of skank.

In comparison my blog has only intermittent pictures (I'm not good with anything that inolves eyes) and rarely deals so poetically with the art of living and cycling. But I can't help it. My mind doesn't work like that. I know I should be pursuing a pure life dedicated to the earth and riding it well but what I really want to talk about is: sweet fair Jesus do any women other than me really suffer traumas over the whole bikini wax/ getting on a saddle issue?!

No there will be no pictures to go with this post.

Seriously. I cannot believe the female cycling fraternity are moving around totally unpruned. But the chaffing involved in the alternative is really too much. It's almost getting to a stage with me now when I watch women competing in XC and I want to know what their secret is. Not the secret of their skill, endurance, fitness (I know that - ride lots) but how they can sit on a saddle for that long. Now that's impressive.

My sister has suggested a product called 'In-grow go' (genius I'm sure you'll agree) by the Skin Doctors (not to be confused with ther Spin Doctors who are in fact, legends) but my sister hasn't sat on a bike since her first child. Obviously she could take up DH or 4X and then she'd never have to sit down but she's a bit too skinny for that. God it's hard being a woman in cycling.

I have never read this issue being discussed anywhere before. Is that because us chicks are all so busy being totally rad and gnarly that we just pretend it doesn't happen? Or is it the more simple case of I'm the only one for who this is an issue?

I clearly have to get me to Alaska.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A little temperance ...

I was ever so gently chastised by Debbie last week over a post I made whereby I expressed vaguely negative views over this Bike Radar article. I insinuated the piece on how to start MTBing was a tad patronising. I must apologise - commuting by bike brings out the beast in me. If that's all I did on a bike I would probably devise an intricate way of killing myself using two spokes and some chain lube.

So in an effort to redress the karmic balance - and because I am writing this at 4am while listening to Radio 4's morning broadcast which so far has included child abuse in Zimbabwe, Venezuela declaring war on Colombia and a severed head being found in a suitcase (happy days people!) - I have here my own guide to beginning mountain biking:

1) Do not assume that because you are a beginner you are therefore female. It has been known to happen but this could cause havoc in the toilets at Dorking station.
2) Note the word, BAGGIES. The addition of lycra to your cycling wardrobe will not make riding a MTB easier. This is a fallacy perpetuated by Evans Cycles and Richard Mardle from Felt racing. Despite many wins, he also crumples in ditches for no apparent reason. In fact the reason is lack of blood to his legs from his shorts.
3) Do not under any circumstances buy a good quality 500 quid mountain bike. Hire for a few weeks until you can work out whether you would rather arrive at the top of a climb or the bottom of some singletrack with the bigger smile.
4) Go riding in the rain. This will make you hard and sturdy - essential MTB characteristics. Plus once you have established riding in appalling conditions, you will reconcile yourself to the basics of MTB in the UK - mud.
5) Be prepared to give up. One of the main joys of MTBing is cake, pies and beer. Oh and tea. The sooner you get to that part of the day, the better. No shame people.
6) Under no circumstances should you practise bunnyhopping in your mum's back garden while wearing slippers.
7) People will tell you it's all about having a great day out in the countryside with your mates. This is a lie. Firstly most of your mates won't MTB anyway. And secondly it's really about doing something gnarly to make your day job seem less depressing and you seem cooler. Thus if you are wearing a skinsuit while riding you have defeated this outcome completely.
8) Learn how to ride off-camber sections (bike away from slope, planting tyres into the lovely, solid earth.) Once this skill is sorted, your life will become a lot easier.
9) Learn how to rail a berm - WEIGHT SOLIDLY OVER BOTTOM BRACKET ON YOUR OUTSIDE FOOT, ELBOWS BENT, EYES LOOKING OUT THE CORNER. Charging a corner is completely rad, pretty simple to pick up and fun. There's only so many technical climbs a girl can handle.
10) Never ask of someone: 'Do you think I can ride that?' This will end with you jumping clear of some 12 foot North Shore into knee deep mud and losing a shoe. Chances are you can't ride it, yet. That's why we have cake and beer. Der.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

It can't be Britney, surely?

In a spate of Great News, the physio has requested I ride for at least 15 miles in one go this weekend in order to see whether my knee is getting better or will blow out again. I have been informed very strongly that five hours of continuous dirt jumping is not the same thing. Damn. It.

Did y'all hear the podcast yet we did a couple of weeks ago with courier Emily Chappell and Phil 'the horse' Moore? It went up yesterdat afternoon. It's here if you want to listen. I bray like a donkey in it but I'm hoping that can be endearing ... It was nice to hang out in the city on a bike and not be riding to work. I spend pretty much every weekend getting out of London to the hills so it was good to make the most of what was on my doorstep rather than whinge about how horrible all the concrete and rude people are. And I would like to point out that I recorded that podcast four hours after I got hit by the blubbing driver. Above and beyond people, above and freakin beyond.

In other news Glyncorrwg ponds have confirmed that Skyline Cycles will be taking over the running of the Drop Off. Whether that results in a name change and/or smaller portions is yet to be discerned as the press release explaining it all is languishing somwehere that isn't my inbox.

But the most cataclysmic thing which has occurred in the last few days is the realisation that of all the seven million songs on my iPod, the one that gets me the most psyched when riding is Britney Spears' 'Gimme More.' Now I know this skater chick Lucy Adams who used to ride for Rogue and she admitted on BBC radio that her favourite tune to skate to was one from Steps. Don't deny it Lucy! She also kicks ass on a skateboard so I figure if she can admit to riding to Steps, Britney is ok right? But it's not really is it? Can anyone help me out by admitting to a more embarrassing one?