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 🙂

20151227_125542 20151227_101651



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



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



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.


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!)


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.


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.




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!



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 :-(


Some of those villages have amusing signs around their streets!




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.




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:
Note that I made a diversion, to end in Lyme Regis rather than Charmouth, the two are pretty close.


Ah, Italy…

Ah, Italy...

Xmas holidays, sometimes is great to escape that dull weather.
It’s a shame that the weather was a mixed bag. Good rides, tho 🙂

Giovanni, Andrea1, Antonio, Andrea2 :-) Antonello, Andrea2, Antonio  photo HPIM5380_zpsce7fa38a.jpg Giovanni, we're in Villasimius and the clouds are thick above us...

Thanks to Andrea and Antonio, plus Antonello and Giovanni to follow in 40 km under pouring rain!

A sunday’s ride: Rapha’s Hell Of The North 3

Nice ride, despite 3 punctures on my rear tubular (of which the 3rd became a 4th whith the case splitting).
Had to glue a new tub, and arrived late, but just in time to see Boonen in his last 10km to victory.

The bike was great, but the Challenge-Strada tubs proved to be a bit too fragile.
And the bottle cage gave me a bit of trouble. Is a Velo Orange, a very lightweight one, and the water bottle would rattle a lot on rough terrain. Eventually the bottle cage broke, and had to find a space in the -already overcrowded- jersey pockets! You can actually see the “lump” on my lower back 😦

Approaching, and steaming trough!

pity I didn’t made a pic of

this sunday ride!

Weather was good, for a change!
(honestly, I do miss the everyday sun in Sardinia!)

So there was no excuse for not going out this morning. And I waited too much, I’d say!

The red Supercorsa was riding like a dream. It’s amazing, I do feel like I’m the king on the road. It’s aplomb is unique between my other bikes, is just so different! I bet is due to the long-ish wheelbase, and the fairly short stem gives it a nippy ride. And the road feels so smooth, I could have ridden it for hours and hours 😀

And, oh! The Record 8 speed groupset works SO well that is such a pleasure to go on the down tube on the shifters, and the CLUNK is solid and flawless. And the chain makes that perfect little noise that seems to be riding a quiet Swiss clock….

Pure pleasure! 🙂