Friday, 13 June 2014

MTB Racer Converted to Commuter Bike

With the weather as nice as it has been recently I just want to be out on the bike every day. Bright starts make the early morning commute enjoyable and by 5pm I'm itching to get out the office and start my meander home.

In the morning I'm out the door at 6.30am, head down, burning up the 17 miles of asphalt to Portsmouth. However on the way home what I really want to do is hit the bridleways onto the South Downs and explore. So I've built up a bike that I think offers the best of both worlds. Speed and efficiency to get me to work on time, and still capable of handling some off-road abuse in the evening.


To say it is built up from a selection of cast off's would slightly under sell it. The S-Works Stumpjumper frame was the love of my life, and my mtb race rig until a few weeks ago. Fitted with Specialized lightweight carbon cranks, and a 32t Rotor Q-Ring to keep me pedaling efficiently. Stans Crest wheels were gracing my race bike a year ago and keep the rotating mass low. My favourite Phenom saddle is showing its age, torn leather perched on a Syntace carbon post. Admittedly the non-oversized Easton bar does look a little spindly by todays standards.

Two anolmalies; items not stripped off my race bike in recent years but raided from the spares bin. An old 105 road rear mech moves the chain across a 9 speed 11-25 road cassette.

A few new parts were needed to complete the build. Most obvious is the carbon fork. An Ebay purchase, I don't know much about its origins, but it appears to be one of the many unbranded parts you can pick-up direct from China these days. A length of 480mm leaves the  geometry unchanged. In need of a rear brake the cheapest hydraulic brakes available were Deore. Although stunningly cheap I love everything about this brake; a great shaped stubby little lever, provides a bundle of controllable power.

Possibly the most critical part of a bike like this is the tyre choice. I can't fault the Continental 32mm touring tyres, which I picked up for £20 at my local shop. Rolling well they also provide confidence on the road, hidden under mudguards they should do me good service this winter. Dropping a few psi they take chalky bridleways in their stride, getting me up onto the Downs. Bigs hits from rocks and roots can be unsettling, a little more volume, especially up front, would help.

I'm really enjoying riding this bike just now, and giving it a second lease of life as a commuter. Lightweight, quick and nimble I can't wait to grab it from the shed in the morning and head off to work.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tortuous Time Off

It has been a tough bike free two weeks since my accident. Today was especially hard, not only was it a crystal clear sunny day perfect for a two wheeled foray into the wilderness. I'd also had today pencilled in as the main competitive target of the year. The Merida Summer Monkey at Caesars Camp. I pre-entered almost as soon as entries opened and had targeted my training towards a result today.

Instead of blasting aorund the trails and fighting it out for a podium, I have instead been tinkering around the garden and cutting the lawn. Wounds are healing, but I am still feeling so tired. The accident and the concussion have really knocked the stuffing out of me. I have yet to make it through a day without a good long nap!

The really bitter pill is that my 2014 race season is over, and it is really hard to adjust my priorities after focusing so long on this year. 

Hopefully a new helmet will arrive next week and I can enjoy exploring the local trails this summer without the pressure of racing. I've also been enjoying some longer weekends with my son and yesterday got him out on a bike!

An uncomfortable looking Daddy is told which way to go next!