Posts Tagged ‘andybooth’

Scott Long Leg

Tough sportive yesterday courtesy of the Scott Long Leg, which I rode with Jonny, Millsy, Andy and Max. The event itself had an easy-going first half – which our group made even easier by spinning along and socialising – followed by a very spiky, hard second half – which Jonny and I made harder by chasing each other up the steepest climbs of the day.

In view of the fact that I’m supposed to be riding the Etape du Dales in a fortnight, and that 85 miles is the farthest I’ve ridden in training so far this year, I figured I needed to extend the Long Leg’s 70 mile distance. Therefore Millsy and I started the day in Epsom, and rode to and from the start line.

We’re into our fourth consecutive week of wet weather here, so it was no surprise to find some of the narrower roads in a really poor state – in fact no better than forest tracks. Millsy and Andy both flatted, and there were further mechanicals: Millsy’s rear mech broke after 30 miles, restricting him to a 3-speed drivetrain, and my front shifter broke after the second feed stop. Unable to shift into the big ring, I was forced to keep the cadence high – but actually I found this beneficial. Since I was never tempted to squeeze out extra revolutions from a big gear on an ascent, my legs felt faster and fresher.

I got impatient with the pace early on and made a break, but I didn’t sustain it, partly thanks to a random rider who latched himself onto my back wheel and then started chatting to me. We re-grouped at the second feed. As the gradient really kicked up for the first time, I paid the price for eating a whole chocolate brownie at the feed stop, and struggled with a ball of butter in my stomach. I fell back from Jonny’s pace on the climb, then I lost him for good without a big ring on the descent. In the end he took 6 minutes from me – but I had us at 10th and 11th fastest on the day.

The day’s heroics culminated in a climb over Box Hill on the way back to Epsom.

It’s been a while since I’ve been as wiped out by a ride as I felt last night.

Retro bikes – Marin Mount Vision

1999 Marin Mount Vision

1999 Marin Mount Vision.

Ross Peat sold off his Marin Mount Vision a couple of months ago. The former UYCC captain and recent energy-gel addict pleaded a ‘lack of space’ as the reason for sale in the ad – but clearly, the thing had to go.

Back in the day, Ross was the organisational lynchpin of the bike club. He was head honcho when I turned up in Goodricke carpark in October 1998 for my first ever ride, and was generally adept in and out of the saddle. To be honest, without him at the wheel, it’s hard to see how our motley crew would have gone riding at all. Always a calm head in a crisis, Ross was expert at weighing the benefits of riding versus, say, heading to the pub – faced with low-lying mist half a mile from the carpark, he knew when to bail.

When I first met him Ross was riding a burgundy-red Kona Explosif, a la this:

1995 Kona Explosif frame.

1995 Kona Explosif frame.

– a few models up from my old 1995 Lava Dome, and from the same classic Kona vintage. But the Explosif was stolen by some Tang Hall lowlife, and Ross was forced to purchase a new rig (after a suitable grieving period). Enter the Marin.

Clean lines: the Marin's pro flight-deck

Clean lines: the Marin's pro flight-deck.

At the time, the Marin Mount Vision was high-end cross-country full-suspension, and fairly eye-catching thanks to its M-shaped frame geometry and girder-like yellow swingarm. Furthermore it was XTR-equipped. The club was impressed.

Added value: take a second look at the Salsa seat clamp.

Added value: the Salsa quick-release seat clamp.

Over years of faifhful service, however, the once-sharp blade became dulled. 10 years after the Marin first hit the scene, I took it for a ride on an off-road social with Tom, Andy and Ross (who by then had of course upgraded to something else). From my experience riding hardtails and road bikes, riding the Marin uphill was like pedalling a canoe with a knackered drivetrain.

The bike went for £250, a ‘freakin’ bargain’ according to one happy Retrobike customer.

Retro bikes – Klein Attitude Comp

The Klein Attitude Comp, in its glory days.

My mate Andy Booth recently sold his Klein Attitude Comp 2000, and I feel the time is right to salute man and rig.

The details are hazy, but as I remember Andy bought the Klein in 2000 with some insurance money. He’d had his previous bike stolen on York University campus, but that wasn’t the source of the windfall – something to do with a traffic accident, a sore neck (I’m feeling in the dark here)?

Anyway, he bought the Klein. Andy’s a tall chap with a penchant for brightly coloured bikes – hence the crane geometry and lurid paint job. Yet the Klein was lean and fast, and over time, as is to be expected, the frame was adorned with all manner of trick upgrades, including Hope hubs in gun-metal grey, and – the jewel in the crown – a Chris King headset.

The Chris King headset, in silver - still as smooth as the day it was fitted, etc. etc.

This bike experienced a golden age in the early noughties, accompanying us on some memorable rides with the University of York Cycle Club (UYCC) in Yorkshire, the Lake District, and beyond.

Still going strong: riding the Klein in Borrowdale, August 2005.

Crag-top stunts - Helvellyn?

Crag-top stunts - Helvellyn?

Latterly though, the Klein fell from grace, and became rather a sad figure, its whale-like Serfas saddle in particular becoming the butt of many a trailside joke. In the end, the Klein was replaced by a younger, sleeker model, and its once glossy sheen became covered in the dust of neglect. That Andy eventually put it up for sale without even cleaning it was an indication of just how bad things had got.

End of an era.

Cheat the week

A gentle climb on the way to Codicote.

A gentle climb on the way to Codicote.

Today, thanks to the flexible working policy of my employer, I was able to ‘cheat the week’ and go on a sunny 4hr ride straight from my flat in north London.

The expression ‘cheat the week’ originated when Andy and I used to ‘work from home’ (whilst working for former employers I might add) and head out riding off-road during office hours when the weather was good. 

Well this one was guilt-free. A fantastic loop from my door, provided by Tim C at London Phoenix, that heads north through High Barnet and Potter’s Bar, getting quieter and more rural all the way. The above shot was taken near the northern limit of the route, in some stunning countryside with barely a car to be seen. 

I rode completely inside 80% max HR (with only a couple of exceptions slightly over, see below), in readiness for Sunday’s sportive, and rightly so because even then my legs felt heavy after 2hrs. I’m now going to have 3 days rest before Sunday – a little experiment to see if I feel better or worse for not commuting. Although there are supposed benefits to ‘active recovery’ I’m not sure whether in fact my daily commute just wears me out and results in general staleness. TBC.


Off-road social

Reliving the old times: me, Tom and Andy taking in the view from Holmbury Hill.

Reliving the old times: me, Tom and Andy taking in the view from Holmbury Hill.

On Saturday, on my last chilled weekend before the sportive season closes in, I did some laid-back off-roading with some old riding buddies from the University of York Cycle Club. It was the first time I’d turned a fat tyre in anger since my Kona Muni-Mula had a Captain Oates moment on a snowy ride in Edale in November 2007. 

Tom, Andy, Ross and I have ridden together many times since we first met at York in 1998-9, from the Yorkshire Dales and Moors to the Peaks and the Lake District, and abroad to France and Slovenia. When I joined UYCC Ross was club captain; I succeeded him the year after, and Tom took over the year after me. So the day was a nostalgic reunion one decade on, a muddy festival of banter on the trails of the North Downs. 


While Andy was christening his new Trek Fuel EX 8, I took a trip back in time to ride Ross’s old Marin full-suspension. Now 10 years old, the Marin is in good nick but feels dull to ride. These days there are stiffer, lighter, more ‘XC’ full-suspension bikes available but I remain to be convinced that the way forward is anything other than hardtail. But then I’m a climber / endurance rider – I don’t need to go any faster on the downhills…

We picked a favourite route from Dorking station up through the vineyard, over Ranmore Common, down into the valley and up and over Holmbury Hill and Leith Hill before a final descent down Summer Lightning. These trails are among the best I’ve ever ridden in the UK, especially when bone dry in the summer. Tom binned it pretty badly coming down the berms from Holmbury Hill, then I stacked it first into a holly bush then into barbed wire on the singletrack further down.


Me and my shredded back.

Me and my shredded back.


Tom's generally shredded body.

We followed up the ride in style with a curry at the Indian Moment on Northcote Road, which I am now convinced is the best Indian restaurant in London. And with that, it’s getting serious. The Prince’s Risborough sportive awaits.