Hello 2016

This year I’ll do more updates, for sure.

More “on-the-fly” images of those funny things that do happen in the workshop (oh, thanks Android for a WP app!), and more things about my little cycling touring adventures.

As usual, Christmas did involve some nice riding in Italy🙂

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Often overlooked, the weight of a tool bag

Long ride or short ride? Mtb or road bike?
A tool bag is a simple thing, yet it does need a little thinking about, unless you want to carry a while toolbox with you, eventually to discover that 95% of the tools won’t be used at all.

 

 

So this is the Full Monty, the way I see it.

You can handle pretty much everything with this, perhaps missing an Hypercracker to remove the cassette in case a spoke fails on the rear wheel. image

In detail, here’s the contents, from top-left clockwise:

  • bag (made from a Thomson stem package)
  • 700c inner tube with long-ish valve
  • two tyre levers
  • small zip bag with 3-4 Nitrile gloves
  • small zip bag with 2 alcohol pads (useful in many things), 3-4 self-adhesive patches, 1 tyre boot (ripstop tape+gaffer tape)
  • chain links
  • a valve extender and a valve core, plus the little tool for them
  • chain Powerlinks
  • Leatherman Squirt mini tool, useful to remove staples stuck in the tyre (how do I know…), opening a beer, etc
  • small container of oil
  • Multitool, has a chain-breaker too
  • Pedro’s Trixie tool, has a box 15mm spanner perfect for a single-speed, and other things

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But that is a bit too much in most cases, so let’s select what is really needed for a specific ride.
It doesn’t take that long, and the results are easy to see in weight and volume:

  • a small but efficient pump (that would give 80psi on a road tyre in <2 minutes)
  • tyre boot (ripstop tape+gaffer tape)
  • small single-use Krazy Glue, very useful to mend slashes on tyres
  • 2 alcohol pads (useful in many things, like degrease disk rotors, clean wounds -ouch!-, remove glue/sealant from rims, etc.)
  • 3-4 self-adhesive patches
  • a valve extender and a valve core, plus the little tool for them
  • small zip bag with 3-4 Nitrile gloves
  • Multitool (Lezyne), with chain-breaker
  • mini-insert from a different multitool, has spoke wrench and 8/9/10mm box wrench
  • chain powerlinks
  • one gear cable
  • small container of oil (from a Soy Sauce container, as found in supermarket-packed sushi)
  • two tyre levers

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But I think we can reduce that even further, and this is what I carry on a normal road ride:

  • pump
  • tyre boot
  • tube patches
  • alcohol pads
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Multitool
  • chain Powerlinks
  • small container of oil
  • very small one-size spoke wrench
  • one tyre lever

That goes down to 234 grams.

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Check it out, the tools go for a mere 140 grams.
After that, i’ve rolled about 1/2mt of gaffer tape around the pump: it can be a ride-saver, I’ve even mended friend’s shoes with it!. It takes no space and no weight (<10 grams, duh!)

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Mind the scarf

Yep, it’s winter time and some folks better watch out their scarf/snood/whatever.
Some people seems able to collect an incredible amount of fluff or strands within their rear hub.

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What do you say, there’s drag, is hard to freewheel?
Let’s start by removing some of this, uh?😉

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Yeah, that’ll do!

Oldies goldies, again

We’re lucky to get some amusing stuff here, every now and then something good shows up.
Not trying to be nostalgic, but those pieces do have personality, unlike the vast majority of today’s productions.
Really, today the market is saturated, full with copies of copies. And too much fragmentation.

Well, forget about that, enjoy this🙂

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And the finesse of rifled bb cups

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the Wessex Ridgeway, an easy/not-so-easy approach to BikePacking

So, after a few short expeditions road-based, I guess it was time to evolve those 20+yrs of XC mountain biking, into longer adventures. Call it BikePacking.

There’s a few options in UK, and I didn’t want to go abroad, nor had the time for a trip over 2 days. It had to be a micro-adventure again.
And because I believe that one learns in small steps, there it goes, 130+km between Wiltshire and Dorset seemed appropriate.

The original track is shorter, starting from Tollard Royal, so I’ve managed to do a patchwork of bridleways/tracks in between very few B-roads. Those 30+km added from Salisbury were actually enjoyable.

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And since I’ve started, I was actually grateful to NOT having changed the tyres to something less knobby. Thinking that it would all be flat-ish bridleways with a bit of gravel, and the odd rocky section; my thoughts were like the Pilgrim’s way, which I did in May on a road bike with 700×25 road tyres…. erm, it wasn’t like that. Bless the Mtb and Continental X-King tyres for their supple ride and brilliant grip.

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The Wessex Ridgeway trail is not “that” technical, but it can be demanding.
You’ll be riding many times on proper grass/ploughed fields, so yes you DO need >2.1″ tyres to float above that mess. Most of them hills can be short but steeeep, so low gears come to help, but sometimes you just have to push.
There’s lots of gates to open and close, and the route is not always well signed; but that does spice it up. Also, cattle and sheep in the field can be a surprise. The latter, get pretty noisy so it may be necessary to make a diversion!

Another thing to put into account for this ride: nettles and brambles. Some parts can be like a jungle, it’s not “single-track” but “quarter-track”: you’ve got 15″ or room in between two walls of sweet thorns ripping off your skin/clothes, and lovely nettles gently carresing your exposed skin until it becomes red.
After the first day my arms and shins were a real mess. Lesson learned: next time bring long sleeves and shin-guards!

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Aside from that, the ride was rather enjoyable, the campsite at Cerne Abbas was nice and reasonable priced, on top of being right on the track. Before that, the hill in Shillingstone is brutal, it’s probably 2km very, very steep going up, and with some of the jungle mentioned above to keep you company. I have to say that I had lost loads of time there, forcing me to take a shortcut (oh, the shame, the shame!) to reach the campsite on a decent time. I was running out of water, too; 2.5lt proved not to be enough on a hot sunny day of July. Thankfully, water can be obtained in one of the many Hamlets/Villages along the route. Cemeterys most often have a water tap, oh, and you may be lucky to find some of those ladies setting up the saturday afternoon tea&cakes. I was unlucky enough to leave when they arrived with piles of cake :-(

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Some of those villages have amusing signs around their streets!

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The second day proved to be harder for me, for some reason my legs felt empty, so the average speed dropped below 15km/h.
I had to reach Lyme Regis before 6.00pm, or Axminster before 7.45pm. I managed to arrive at the former destination just before 6pm, so I could enjoy a good 45 minutes sitting on the beach. That was a good reward for all that effort, it was actually a lovely day and I felt very happy.

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I took my time to reach Axminster, nearly 1hr, but still plenty of time ahead of the train scheduled time. I like to wait for the train and not the train been waiting for me.
It all went smooth, albeit the train was packed (always reserve the space for your bicycle, especially on sunday evenings!), so I reached home before midnight and fed my cat who was waiting for me :-)

Here you can find the track that I’ve used:
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8822485
Note that I made a diversion, to end in Lyme Regis rather than Charmouth, the two are pretty close.

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Amuse me….

Sometimes I do get pretty amusing stuff down here.
It could be very nice, as those classic bikes…

Cinelli_Laser1 Cinelli_Laser4 Cinelli_Laser5
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or this

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E_Mercx_titane5 E_Mercx_titane9 E_Mercx_titane11

 

Or a rather unusual repair and request to replace/modify some stuff….

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(I’m afraid, for safety reasons we REALLY have to remove the plastic bag around the pedals!)

 

But surely, it all goes up to a certain extend!🙂
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Happy new year, check this video

This video dates back from 1989, a documentary about bicycle design/production/etc. from Channel 4.
There's some really nice stuff in.

Here is a glimpse of Mario Camillotto’s workshop when he wa building for Cinelli. Lovely and tidy workshop, can’t praise him enough

Columbus factory

And Monty young from Condor Cycles, shown building wheels.
It is great to think that some of those tools are still around here, along with his truing stand. I do feel honored to have worked for a couple of years with him

And a shot from Condor’s old shop in Grays Inn road, nice to mention that the shop is still on that road, and grown to need a much bigger space nowadays

Campagnolo factory.
A nice look at the hubs production line, those do look like been Chorus rear hubs.
The music in background is the famous “Và pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco”

And dr. Alex Moulton (who sadly passed away last year) showing his legenday space-frame

 

And last, a view of a Cinelli Laser track