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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

One of these dayz

It was already one of those dayz.

With less than dogged determination.. I hit the snooze button several times this morning.. the 05:30 alarm being deemed waay to early. Despite that I managed to drag my arse up and out the door by 06:30 (half hour later than intended) having prepared all my kit the night before.

This involved collecting my bike from storage (I am temporarily technically homeless) and gathering together a myriad of old and new (untested) kit.
I had some aero bars ( yes those things again... not the chocolate version) .. which took an age to attach due to the bolts repeatedly falling out and then not engaging the threads! And all on film 😁
One of those dayz...
Despite this I eventually manage to get them on. They werent very pretty (yes that is important) and wouldnt be useful for my planned ride in Exeter today.. I was looking towards the bigger 'Tour Divide' picture. The aerobars might provide a welcome rest for my hands on the few flattish and/or tarmac bits. They might also provide an extra attachment space for my handlebar bag to make it more secure. Thats the idea anyway. I added bar tape to the ends for extra cushioning which made it look even more ugly... but practicality is the key.

As well as the aerobars there were a few new pieces of kit to try out.

Firstly... my new waterproof socks. There is nothing worse than wet cold feet and numb toes.

A new bar bag... slightly altered by my mum who dutifully cut a hole in the required position to enable the usb cable for my phone to go through.. enabling the dynamo charger cable to be attached whilst my phone remains safe inside the bag. It has two pouches so one will be used for stuff im charging as I ride.. and the other to stuff food/sweets/energy into. That went onto my bike ready for the morning.

As I did these adjustments... I noted that my front tyre was pretty flat... pumped it up and the air seemed to stay in. I put it down to an accidental valve press ... and thought very little more about it.

One of those dayz...

Two other bits of kit hadnt arrived. A waterproof windproof jacket that Im hoping will be Divide perfect and a bottle holder mount that can fix almost anywhere on the bike. Could have done with the jacket today... it was a bit cold this morning.

Bike on car... kit in car...and then wait 10 minutes for the car to defrost... shivering uncontrollably...

One of those dayz...

The journey to Haldon Forest in Exeter took about three hours. The sunrise lit up the sky gradually bringing the promise of a perfect day. The fields still shrouded in mist... the early morning light glistening off it. A perfect cycling winter morning.
When I got to the forest... it appeared that I was alone in my eagerness to get out on such a perfect day. Despite the sunshine bursting through the trees.. it was still bloody cold.
I had layers... baselayer... jersey... winter jacket... buff... cycle trousers... mtb shorts.. long fingered gloves underneath my half fingered gloves and the all important waterproof socks. The Mitchellin man had nothing on me 😁

The first few miles as always was a shock to the body... "what are you doing to me". I started off on the easy blue Spicer trail... a lot of flat... a few lumps and bumps... and even on this trail... I was getting way too warm. In my eagerness to get going I was skidding round the corners and smashing up the trail.... totally not the point of this exercise... endurance being the watchword. The brown ferns.. normally looked dull and dead.. now glowed in the shafts of sunlight a beautiful burnt orange. The droplets of dew glistened and together with the ferns created a magical place surrounding me.

One of those dayz...

Onwards to the Kiddens trail... a slightly more demanding blue route. Winding through the forest... all alone on the trail... thoughts turned to Canada... and Bears!! Fortunately I was still in the uk and although I did see some skat... it was more likely to be horses than bears that Id bump into today 😁 The Kiddens trail has some nice downhill and similar climbs. With the odd bridge... drop off and stony descents it demanded most of my attention... but not all. The last bit of my brain was taken up by admiring the views and appreciating the stillness of the forest... at least until my tyres hit the gravel.  Then onto the red route... Ridge Run. Now last time some of it was shut and there was another way onto it... so I took this familiar entrance onto it. Gone was daydreaming time... every ounze of brain activity was on the foot in front of my wheel. A few close calls with trees later I emerged... huffing and puffing into the sunshine.. to be faced with the only climb I have found yet that I enjoy.

Its steep... its reasonably long... but oh the view on the way up!! The hill drops away leaving a vista thats stunning enough to distract from the iron taste in the mouth from the lactic acid build up.

One of those dayz...

Then the ridge run... with a steepish drop to one side.. leaving little room for error. Given that ive cycled these trails before... the memory of this part enabled me to take it with a bit of speed. I did however forget the sharp bouldered uphill that totally stopped me in my tracks... next time!!

Circuit 1 done... back to the car to stuff down a tracker bar and some 'sheep shit'. (No im not that CraZy... its balls of fruit and nuts which just happen to look exactly like sheep shit).

Back on the bike and the Kiddens trail... merrily bombing along. Got to a section of lumps bumps and drops and my chain got wedged. I coasted down the last section and lost all momentum at the bottom.
Uh oh...

One of those dayz...

I fixed the chain reasonably easily but I had a far bigger issue... my front tyre was totally flat. Had I bashed the valve again whilst fixing the chain?? Out came the pump and 5 mins of effort led to an inflated tyre. Back on the bike... 100 yards later... bike slewing across the track uncontrollably... tyre totally flat again! Hmmmmmm

Choices...
I could fix it on the trail ... I had everything I needed to do that and ive changed many an inner tube in my time BUT... it was my front tyre. Traditionally the easiest to change as there are no cogs to get in the way when removing the wheel... however I have a dynamo hub. This is the wheel hub which generates electricity ... sends it up a wire and charges my phone. The worry was that by fixing it here... not ever having changed a tube on a dynamo hubbed wheel before.... was that I would damage the wire and break my very expensive dynamo.

So I decided to walk back to the forest centre... this involved a long uphill section (actually it was all uphill) but it did test how suitable my shoes were for the Tour Divide 'hike a bike' sections. They were comfy to walk in and I pushed my bike up the hill with no problem. Okay so my bike wasnt fully loaded but it was a start.
Having got back to the centre... I chickened out of changing the tube.. instead paying the nice bike shop man to do it for me. Yup... a bit lazy...  but it meant I could watch how he did it this time and learn. The dynamo cable was cable tied to the frame and I instantly decided to replace the cable ties with electrical tape... given that the cable ties would have to be cut off every time I needed to change the tube risking damage to the wire... it would be far easier to unwind the electrical tape.

I neednt have worried about removing the wheel as it was a very simple process to unattach the dynamo wire... completely freeing the wheel.. but hey ... you live and learn!

One of those dayz...

Following that delay and the exertioms of pushing my bike up the hill... lunch called me along with the ubiquitous hot chocolate 😁 then back out for one final run. This time.. heading for the red trail.. i saw the actual start of the route and headed for that. A new piece of trail for me to ... errr... be totally scared down lol.

It was narrow... bumpy... technical... fast... with a nice 'little' drop to one side. Some nasty climbing and some 'heart in mouth' downhill. I came off that section with a very wide grin!! Unfortunately... Id forgotten to switch back on my gps... meaning all that had not been logged as official miles...

One of those dayz....

Beaten up... with aching core muscles... I decided to call it a day there. A three hour drive and dropping my bike off at the storage place meant there was still a good deal of time before I could collapse in a heap. I was disappointed with the mikeage done... but given the technical trail and technical bike issues I guess it was ok.

The waterproof socks never got a proper test as the trails were mainly dry.. but the top tube bag worked well with the dynamo charging my phone in it and the aero bars.. though sparsely utilised today.. did not alter the handling of the bike or become a hazard in the trees.

Got home.. and the jacket I could have utilized had arrived....

Its just been...

One of those dayz!

Photos will be up shortly on my facebook page.

www.facebook.com/OneChallengeAtATime to follow the journey from training to the Tour Divide!