March, 2004

Mar 04

Pet hates I

Bit of a door theme for the first of a potential series of posts.

Automatic doors
They never open at the right time. Why can’t they just move the sensor back two (or sometimes four) feet?
The wrong handles
Pull handles on push doors – what is this all about?
Locked double doors
Where there are double doors, like when going into a large shop, common sense dictates that they should both be open! Perhaps it’s bored shop assistants having a laugh.

Mar 04

Afghanistan blog

Ace mate and all-round top lad, Brendan Whitty, AKA Bouncing Brendan, is off to dodge rocket propelled grenades in Afghanistan for six months. Or at least he will be once he finds his passport. It might sound dangerous, but it’s all good – he’s read his company handbook, including the section on what to do if you find yourself in a minefield. Poke gently at thirty degrees, apparently. His blog is bound to be an interesting read, assuming he gets there.

Blog addicts will be pleased to hear that I’m working on another interesting kiting blog, but more on that later.

Mar 04

Full blown bike disaster (memorial)

The trauma I mentioned a while ago pales into insignificance in light of today’s bombshell. Got a call from today Dave Yates, the legendary framebuilder who I had entrusted with the surgery of my darling bike. The call didn’t start well:

MS: “How are you doing Dave?”
DY: “Probably better than you’re about to be.”

Holey moley - not cool result of shot blasting my frame

The following five minutes didn’t improve as he told me that when he started shot blasting the frame the downtube “just turned to lace” and that my frame is a write-off. He put the holes in my frame down to internal corrosion and a combination of Tange Prestige tubing with a nickel plated finish. I’m not entirely convinced that a framebuilder wouldn’t notice something was that amiss before he started shot blasting and we won’t get into the fact that he had completed most of the work without phoning me (despite clear instructions to the contrary). However, establishing blame is rather academic and doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a bike. I do hope he’s not expecting paid for the work he’s done, this blog is no place for what I’ll suggest he does with the frame…

This is rubbish. It’s the end of an era. My P7 was the symbol of the last ten years of my life. Sounds cheesy, but it was much more than just a bike. Even when I was more into climbing, then later kiting, no object summed up everything I love about life more than my mountain bike. When my mates and I were biking as kids at school, we called ourselves the X-Team – they were some of the best times of my life and the P7 is part of almost all of those memories. I used to ride before school, talk about biking all day at school then ride again after school and all weekend. It was great, a group of us were fully into it and had time to spare, but I’m in danger of getting sidetracked into reminiscing too much so I’ll stop.

I’ve been ‘out’ of biking for ages now. It’s not that I’ve not ridden my bikes a bit, I’ve just not paid attention to the gear and trends. It’s changed in the last few years, big-time! Everyone seems to be riding full suspension or silly 30lb jump/street bikes. Those who aren’t all seem to be riding aluminium frames and forks with more travel than a pro-level downhill bike of old. This is a bit of a shock to an XXC (see what I’ve done there?) racer and uphill rider! My first stop was to look for bikes like the recenty deceased, but after a chat with Stuart and The Brend, I started to realise that perhaps living in the past was the wrong move, so this soon changed to more modern afairs, like the Cotic Soul.

This is a steel frame that has been developed with longer travel suspension forks in mind (although I’d need to find a long pair of rigids until I scraped some more cash together) and is aimed at general cross-country riding and, I daresay, ‘freeriding’ ;-). It sounds right, but I’m still trying to get my head round the long travel fork idea, don’t they just flop about going up steep hills? I certainly won’t be riding as much as I used to (I’ve discovered kites!), I won’t be racing and will probably just want to have fun rather than tearing up hills at silly speeds but I can’t help feeling “You can take the boy out of the race, but you can’t take the race out of the boy”. Something like that anyway – I really mean I don’t want to be lumbered with something too burly! No doubt you’ll be hearing more about this.

Mar 04

Rules of argument

Via: Simon Willison I saw The Fishbowl: Charles’ Rules of Argument.

I particuarly like how he likens RDF to religion and “The ideal attitude to project during any argument is one of calm disinterest.”.

Mar 04

England beats Scotland in windy shocker!

There will be an image here when I get round to putting it back up!

You don’t see this very often, although having said that, we did just get some squally Force 8 coming through a while ago! Wind in England, well I never…

Image from XCWeather.

Mar 04


I hate the word ‘freeride’. I’ve read an article a while ago in a mountain bike magazine that reminded me of my dislike for it. The guy who wrote it was saying that he thinks that jumping off drops is freeriding, riding rocky and rooted sections is freeriding even kids making jumps in the street is freeriding. Hang on a minute, this is what everyone does on a mountain bike, this is mountain biking. My preference is for doing long rides in the hills on technical singletrack. Is this freeriding? Who cares?

Why it must be labelled like this is beyond me, why can’t you just call it mountain biking? Perhaps it’s all just been invented by companies for commercial gain. On the other hand, perhaps I’m thinking too much.

Freeriding seems to have crept into a lot of adventure sports, including kiting where you can buy so called ‘freeride kites’. What on earth defines a freeride kite? Perhaps if we ever get round to making the Wind Things kiteATB DVD we should have a slogan on the front like “The latest in modern-hardcore-progressive-freeride landboarding”. Hmmm.

Despite many different definitions of the word, one common theme is that you are “free from rules”. Bollocks. What rules are imposed on you when you go biking, snowbarding, kiting or anything like that? The only real rules I can think of, apart from having to get home for your tea, are found when you’re competing. Now for the bit that I’ll bet nobody can understand, a classic oxymoron – there are freeride competitions!

Mar 04

Bike trauma

I’ve been super keen on the bike and in the pool recently, but I just feel like my training is going backwards. After a lot of thinking and discussions with triathletes I’ve decided that I’ve been over training. I did this just before a mountain bike race years ago and it was nasty – felt awesome just before a complete fitness collapse and come race day I could barely turn the pedals! This time I realise that my swimming started to drop off shortly after I started biking again and think that while my body was coping with the stress of the increasing swim sessions, the extra effort on the bike combined with still recovering from my injury pushed it over the edge. I decided to take at least a week of complete rest.

I’m too hyper to find resting easy and decided to fit the new drivetrain that I’ve just bought to my Orange P7 (don’t like the look of the new ones!) this weekend so that I couldn’t ride it. Everything was going fine until I couldn’t remove my bottom bracket. Headed down to the local shop to get some help where we put the tool in a vice and used the leverage of the frame to try to unscrew it. BANG! Snapped vice. We soaked it in oil for a couple of hours and ‘Mike The Bike’ went shopping for a new vice. Two of us leaning on the frame this time. BANG! Snapped vice. Holy shit! I’ve never seen a vice snap before and we’ve just snapped two heavy duty ones with my bike! Thankfully I’ve known Mike for years and he found it pretty funny, but he wasn’t up for trying it on the next new vice…

The next option is heating it with a blow torch, but this is sounding like mistakes could be expensive so I’m going to get someone else to do it. Current plan is to send it away to a frame builder and get them to shot blast and respray it too (the blow torch will burn off at least the lacquer anyway). Assuming I get another few years from my frame this will be worth it I think. Of course it could break next week (it is eight years old), but that’s the gamble. Man, the costs of this little renovation are spiralling out of control in a Ratho stylee! It takes about three weeks to get this job done so at least I’ll be getting plenty of rest!

Mar 04

Ratho climbing centre

Ratho climbing centre is one of the biggest climbing walls in Europe. The concept was pretty cool – cover an existing rock climbing quarry with a big roof, keep some of the existing routes climbable, stick in a huge climbing wall and plant a building there with offices, cafes and shops.

Unfortunately it should have remained just that – a concept, a dream. As Mike suggested to me, they should have built a big warehouse type building and stuck it in a field somewhere for £1m. Add some offices and a climbing wall for another �1m and that’s �18m saved. I’ve never built a climbing wall so I’m probably talking rubbish, but you get the idea. Building it in the quarry has always seemed like a needlessly frivolous expense. It’s a great shame that it’s future is so uncertain as it is without doubt a great facility. Hopefully they can sort something out, I might not have a chance to climb there!

Let’s just thank God they did it at Ratho, not Cambusbarron :)

Mar 04

Internet problems

We’ve just had our ADSL contract cancelled becuase BT messed up changing the name on our phone bill. This is pissing me off no end because we need to pay another activation fee and wait a week or so to get net access. We weren’t told any of this beforehand. Fuck, bastards, etc.

I also seem to be unable to reply to e-mails via my webmail so if I’m not replying to e-mails quickly I’m not just being rude!


Mar 04

Kiting videos

Over the last few months there seem to be more new kite videos posted on sites than ever before. I thought I’d post links to a few of the best ones that I’ve found. If there are any I’ve not mentioned that you really like, let us know please (except ‘the Guerilla video’, I thought it was crap)!

EDIT: Cris Walsh has pointed out this G-ARC video (110 megs), which is much better than the other one. Ta Cris!

  • The Geilo Vid, 23.35 long and 120 megs big – easily the best snowkite video I’ve found. Plenty of action and some lifestyle stuff in there too, very cool.
  • Col Du Lautaret Jan 04, 10mins and 71 megs – stonking opening jump and some nice kiteloops, but a wee bit ‘samey’.
  • Frenzy 04, 4.20 and 65 megs – some nice moves in there.
  • Peru wave riding, 3.20 and 26.8 megs – some pro’s riding at a lush looking venue. This is what kitesurfing is about, roll on autumn.
  • US KiteATB, 3.20 and 5.5 megs – some nice mountain boarding from the States.
  • Colac Bay, NZ, 4.30 and 20.5 megs – lovely wave riding video from some of the folk I met in New Zealand. I didn’t find anything that good there unfortunately. Having trouble finding this one again. I’ve just found another Colac Bay video that is 35megs, but it’s crap, this one is way better.

I’ve also got a Pete Trow and Josh Mulcoy wave riding video from California and Baja, that is really, really good and a neat video from a comp in Portugal (I think) but I can’t remember where I found them.

Mar 04

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