Mud in your ice.

As trail conditions go, a sprinkling of fresh white stuff covering a crunchy layer of corn snow atop a bed of mid winter mud doesn’t trigger an enthusiastic “Let’s Ride” response to a 7am Alarm call. Except today when two of your five tomorrows include 18 hour London Returns and a whole week of shitty looking weather.

We kept to the South side of the Malverns with the high ridges and peaks being properly deep in snow. This still didn’t make our passage easy as every climb had to be forced through the greasiness and energy sappin g slippiness of trail wide mud. Which you only found as tyres broke through a thin crust of snow on the fourth day of a freeze/unfreeze cycle.

Malvern Ride - Feb 2010 Malvern Ride - Feb 2010

I’m fairly bored of snow. Only our last descent was on the right side of conditions nirvana with hardpacked snow on firm trails. The rest of a rather weedy sounding 10k loop had to be hard earned with granny ring gurning, and significant pushing. Downhill was pretty exciting to be fair, with fantastic levels of grip being attained right up until the point when there wasn’t any. At all. I’ll be going straight on then regardless of the spiky vegetation blocking my way.

Malvern Ride - Feb 2010 Malvern Ride - Feb 2010

Momentum was truly your friend – my old mud riding memories surfaced from years of Chiltern Winter* allowing be to blaze a stinky trail over half frozen stutter bumps and endless draggy slush. It was more fun that is sounds, especially as we had the hills to ourselves and most of our tracks were the first ones.

Malvern Ride - Feb 2010 Malvern Ride - Feb 2010

A final climb up a quickly renamed “Mist-Summer” found us finally on harder tracks where pedalling brought a proper forwards, rather than sideways, reward. A brief stop at the top ratified our choice to stay away from the high places with wind driven snow making riding difficult and a bit dangerous. Off the top we went, carefully on the narrow, snowy tracks and then faster – sometimes unintentionally – through the steep, muddy tree section.

Malvern Ride - Feb 2010 Malvern Ride - Feb 2010

A comedically heroic snow spraying plunge back to Hollybush brought forth icy tears and big grins.

Malvern Ride - Feb 2010

If I’m still loving riding so much in these conditions, what’s it going to be like when it’s dry, dusty, fast and warm? I’ll hardly be able to sleep 🙂

* And Spring. And Autumn. And Summer as well on too many occasions.

Long Term Weather Forecast.

Four words to strike terror into the heart of any committed fair weather fairy/hardy mountain biker despite the heuristic proof that they are nothing more than Electronic Wizardry looking out of a virtual window, before making something up. So when, four days ago, a flutter of net pidginary cemented a Welsh trail centre rendezvous despite dire warnings of frozen fire and sleety brimstone, we rightly expected at worst cold and clear, and at best – well – Spring.

As usual, the prevailing weather conditions had nothing whatsoever to do with the Met Office’s finest lying machine, and everything to do with my utterance of the “S” word while being lightly warmed under sunny skies on a Devon beach some two days earlier. So it was a disappointment – if not a surprise – to find myself driving through a wall of snow some two valleys upstream from CwmCarn this morning. My riding Pal – who shared the last proper winter experience and the birth of the grim-o-meter – was running late, leaving me ample time to sulk in the car park as a volley of small arms fire was unleashed on the truck.

No way that was merely rain. Nothing as soft as H20 can create a racket quite that hard and so devastatingly depressing. Here we were then; in a never-ending winter, at ground zero of a rain event that can surely only end in flooding , and awaiting Nigel “the weather Jonah” Parker. As we’ve said so many times before “What could possibly go wrong?

Not much actually. On the upside, waterproofs were exactly that, gears shifted, suspension reliably bonged up and down, tyres kept us in touch with the trail and brakes stopped us flying off it. On the downside, it was a bit wet and muddy. There is a rather snooty stance, generally dispensed bravely from behind an Internet keyboard, that trail centres are identikit scalextric tracks – the domain of the poseurs and poorly skilled, somehow unworthy of proper riders. And you know, under the pompous bullshit, there’s a nugget of truth there especially if you are surrounded with such helpful MTB geography as I am.

But not today, five minutes into the first climb we were both immersed in splashing through puddles and searching for grip. Experts in the former, rather less successful locating the latter leading both of us to wonder if today was “National Can’t Ride for Shit Day“. Really didn’t matter as all though as we crested the snowline and made fresh tracks for the summit. We’d be following five or six tyre indents since mud gave way to the white stuff, but come the first descent, fresh tracks were ours.

This was properly atmospheric riding, snow tamping down all noise except the hiss of our tyres, low lying trees brushing clothes and depositing freshies in your helmet*, and the trail lost under a carpet of late winter. Neither of us have ever ridden that descent quite so slowly nor been quite so close to a whole range of interesting accidents. Slowly it dawned on me, that your best UK rides are invariably undertaken in less than perfect conditions. And this is a good thing, because who would want dust and firm trails all year round eh?**

Something else began to nudge my hindbrain as well, and that was simply the ST4 is one brilliant bike. I’ve ridden CwmCarn on a range of MTB’s from short travel singlespeed through ever more exotic hardtails, and a slew of full suspension bikes. And one section in particular has always found them out – the exposed ridge hanging over the valley and made up of fast chutes, exposed turns and a whole bunch of pointy shaped rocks. Hardtails are hard work here as a few bits are pedally and all of it is pretty bouncy. Full Suss bikes don’t snap out of the bends, and feel a bit too magic carpet for the trail. Singlespeeds are just silly.

But the ST4 is not like any of those. It encourages pumping the trail**, taking more aggressive lines and being rather too brave carving through the turns. It’s differently great because you cease to think about the bike and what it can and you can’t do. You just ride and grin and ride and ride and grin some more until the world becomes a better place. You can’t explain why, but you don’t care much about that either. At the trails’ end, I was a little disappointed to see Nig only 50 yards behind on his hardtail. He did however have the decency to look proper bolloxed.

The homeward trail has been groomed and improved to deal with those who confuse braking with turning, and those of us who’ve *ahem* ridden off the edge after failing to bridge the gap between confidence and skill over the little jumps. Nig and I went at it line astern, fully dialled in to the level of grip and estatic in the knowledge that there is nothing but downhill hoonery between us and a huge mug of tea.

It didn’t last long enough, but it lasted long enough to validate why riding is always better than not riding. To reinforce the truth that is dicking about with your friends beats sitting around bemoaning the bloody British Weather. To make me wonder if it’ll always be like this, or whether one day I’ll accept middle age, living between the lines, lose the incredulation of my peers who pityingly ask whether it’s time to increase your medication, find stuff people find important is important to me, conform to social norms, stop breaking the washing machine, that kind of thing.

But laughing at Nig with his full body mud pack – the signature look for a Winter Mountain Biker – and having another head full of fantastic memories, I think it’s pretty sodding unlikely for a while yet.

Suits me.

* This is not rude. It was, however, exceptionally cold.

** Okay, okay fair enough but you’d need to share it with a bunch of Californians’. Hah, that’s shut you up.

*** No this isn’t rude either but it’s huge fun, and you can do it standing up so….

That was the weekend that was..

… great, super, marvellous. All things which singularly and together fail to describe the undeniable shitness of the days following. Waiting for the snot to stop, most grumpy here was merely going to post a flickr link and a bookmark to a similar ride two years back.

Yet while many of the photos and some of the riders may look the same, a few hundred planetary rotations has changed quite a lot of other stuff. The trails for a start, a number are showing some real signs of wear and widening which can be attributed to a couple of shit summers, and some crappy riding mostly on the brakes. Certainly Sunday brought out many wheeled trail users and a bit of snow, whereas Saturday we had all to ourselves except for a wind that reduced expensive winter gear to dayglo marketing.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

We were also lost significantly more often. I blame Nigel who made two bad decisions before we’d even begun; firstly he (was) volunteered to be Responsible Individual With The Map, before compounding that mistake by immediately installing me as his navigational second. His rationale was sound enough – no one else had ever been here before, but there are years of bloody history for yours truly exhibiting the map reading skills of a blind goldfish with a lemming complex.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

Immediate geographical discord saw me head off one way while Nig made a confident start at 180 degrees to my track. Re-united after a spot of desperate “just our little joke fellas” mugging, legs still upset at being stripped of warm trousers, were instructed to turn endless circles to make progress along and then up Holford Coombe. Here it became apparent which masochistic bastards had been suffering trench-willy for the previous month, and which of our little riding flange had been somewhat more distracted by the pleasures of a sofa.

For all my gloating over early season form, the first crash still stapled itself to my leg as an optimistic stream line choice into resulted in a face-planting punt over the bars followed by a hard bash with sharp metally bike parts. Bleeding heroically from a calf wound, I wound up the steepening trail in sweaty hubris only to find myself largely alone, although this was due in some part by a head start triggered by five other blokes pissing themselves laughing.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

The trail was a cheeky combination of mud, frozen mud and other assorted wetness. I was loving it, others less so especially Brian who unwisely introduced himself to a month of sloth and SPD’s at the same time. Still more height was gained – and occasionally lost when Nig failed to understand my checking the map and pointing confidently were in no way connected – until we’d banked enough for a guiltless withdrawal at the gravity machine. WeaCoombe always makes me smile, if only for the slight schoolboy humour of its’ name, although laughing was not the primary emotion once tyre swallowing divots threatened to buck me from my full suspension steed.

Talent compensators are all well and good assuming you have some talent to start with. Elliot – young lad, great bike handling skills, you know the sort, lovely blokes and yet damn annoying with their effortless riding, blew past riding a mate’s bike one size too small, while still having sufficient mental capacity to check if I was having some sort of problem. Certainly was, and it was entirely ego based so I set about chasing the young buck* which inevitably ended with a bunch of excellent excuses and a 20 second gap. Still there was climbing to be done now which was less gloaty than it should have been as “it’s easier to be fit that to be brave” as my younger self incessantly reminded me.

Next up Smiths. Not quite where I thought it was although I passed off being prematurely trailheaded with a lofty “yeah well for those that know this knarly flat bit is actually the start donchaknow?“. My reward was to be sent down second chasing Elliot in a manner best thought of as life threatening. Smiths is strange, it’s so fast and open at the top, you enter the trees off the brakes pretending not to remember what happens next. “Yeah there’s some rocks but hey they’re not that bad, we’ll keep the speed up and float over ’em Collective Style“. And that works for a while until you hit a section clearly composed of gravestones begat from the last silly buggers to try that.

I reviewed my options; braking on wet rock seemed to offer nothing but a close up view of something pointy, steering away was largely pointless as to my left, rock, to my right more rock, hanging on for grim death then? Yes? Okay, it’s worked many times before. And it worked again, although my squeeky shout to upcoming walkers spoke of a man having recently imbued a pint of adrenalin. Through the water splash though, the singeltrack is worth dying for, really even when a little muddy and soggy, it’s the perfect combination of flowing corners and lofty lumps. Yeah ace trail, shitty granny ring climb out although I attained my high water mark on this time round.

Still had to get off and push and a bit of inspired map reading condemned the accused (“You don’t like climbing much do you?“) to 20 minutes of strange uphillness that looked flat but felt vertical. Mutiny temporarily averted by a promise of stonking trail all downhill to a late pub lunch, thing were looking properly up, until the we got lost going down and found ourselves on a 200 yard wide grassy motorway at bugger all gradient and faced by a bastard head wind.

Nige and I reviewed the map only to realise we’d taken a wrong turn. Rather than admit to that, we waved the boys off towards what those filled with negative thoughts may have considered a cliff face and hoped for the best. And it was; the best that is dropping into fast contour hugging singletrack before steepening further through rocky switchbacks then firing us out onto a wooded, rooty trail high about the sunken trail we’d been heading for. Two trails became one with a proper root step to flat interfacing with an airy satisfying second of silence before great suspension hit rocky track. Perfect, let’s go to the pub.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

We stayed there a while because the climb out of Bicknoller is not something any person with no history of mental health would leave a warm fire to toil up. But the cars were two valleys away and winter light is soon winter dark, so up we went in various states of groaning and thousand yards stares. It would be inappropriate for me to document exactly who was first up. By quite a few minutes. Or to discuss exactly how motivational “One day you’ll laugh about this climb, but today YOU ARE WEAK” actually is.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

Some fine gurning later, we were off home via a quick traverse and some inspired map reading by Nig with absolutely no support from me. Sturt Coombe would also excite the schoolboy with its’ lush curves and hidden depths**, and excited us rather older gentlemen as well. A great way to finish and by this time I was absolutely sure that the ST4 was a bike that is going to take me to all sorts of interesting places. It’s not a blast through anything bike or a magic carpet ride suspension miracle, but it’s something way better than both of those. I’m can just catch sight of how bloody good it is with my riding peripheral vision. Get a decent rider on one of these and they’d fly. And then disappear.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

As we had too after splashing through streams and dirtying cars with mud splattered clothing. The mud splattered grins lasted longer even after cleaning ourselves up and depopulating the local pubs of dark beer and sweet things. I even took the fellas to a cherished local’s pub where a fight was just breaking out. I think they enjoyed that.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

Next day a mechanical, excuses and pressing engagements saw three of us getting lost ON THE WAY to the car park we were heading for. Admitting defeat I broke man-law and asked a nice lady for trail directions. Which ensured we rode some more frozen trails and had a mince on the downhill course. I love the Quantocks for serving up superb trails and stunning views in a really quite tiny package of land. It’s 100 miles door to door and that’s not far enough away to stop me coming back a few more times this year.

Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010 Quantock Hills Ride - Jan 2010

I love it for one more thing as well; the memories of some great mates and some brilliant riding. You know I suddenly don’t feel so bad anymore.

* no really. I meant to type that. It’s a family show.

** I lied about the family show bit.

The Grim-O-Meter.

This is my unofficial measurement of unpleasantness when bicycles meet rain, dark, wind, cold and mechanical catastrophe. So a 1 would represent a light sprinkle of mid-summer rain cascading over an un-jacketed rider, thereby souring an otherwise delightful experience of tanning and pedalling. Whereas a 10 would be the archetypal “dark and stormy night” attempting to fix a puncture with no tubes, a busted pump and bloodied thumbs while being frequently deluged by passing HGVs.

This morning was a strong six. Dark. Check. Early. Check. Wet. Check. Mechanical. Oh yes. After 30 minutes of sustained fettling, the screeching mudguard of doom now emits a piercing howl rather than a dull scratch. Ratcheting up the GOM score was some unrelenting rain triggered, as I moved the bike from indoors to outdoors, from an apparently clear sky.

A little music tends to ease the passage from night to day, but my MP3 player lay abandoned where I’d placed it charging the night before in a location impossible to miss at 6am. That’s an area of my commute that needs some work, as does about half of the road surface which is either pot-holed, subsiding or entirely missing. The only joy of mid winter riding stems from darkness hiding an ever more pretzled wheel set.

So whereas last weekend I strode the quantocks as a cycling collusus* stomping up climbs and gloating over early season form, this week has been payback. Firstly a Malverns night ride shortened first by apathy and secondly by sleet. My legs were fine, but the shop steward of the brain demanded a one-out-all-out withdrawal of labour.

We still poked a big pointy hole on the upside of 2,000 feet of vertical climbing, but sticky trails, too much great riding lately and a shared sense of can’t-be-arsed saw us lowside it home to avoid all the really hurty bits.

And we weren’t alone. At least not quite. Two weeks ago, I was lamenting the burgeoning flange of riders on my hills. But Tuesday saw just us and another pair who were talking a hell of a game in terms of a peak bagging epic** trudging through the plasticine trails, and sliding about in a generally not-very-good-at-cycling manner.

The signs of post Christmas apathy are all around. The fug of a microwaved pasty has already replaced the smell of fresh lettuce in our office. On the train – come summer – we struggle to position six bikes in a space for barely three. But this week there’s been just the one, with the rider receiving pitying looks from fellow passengers.

I know what they were thinking “Nice bike, shame he had to sell his car to buy it, because well you wouldn’t got out in THAT by choice. Or maybe he’s a nutter“. February is always a bastard month, not quite close enough to spring for light and warmth to permeate the times when I ride, nor far enough into the season to motivate yourself that this is training for summer events.

No month 2 is a slog. And there aren’t many of us still doing it. But great riding gear, fast road bikes and a level of bloody mindedness not to let this unheralded fitness slip shall keep me going. Although I expect the Grim-O-Meter to take a beating for the next few weeks.

* Other people who were actually there may have a different – and less glowing – opinion.

** But based on the physical evidence of them blowing it out of their arse on a flat section, I’m thinking they were fibbing. A lot.

Bottle it

That’s what I’d like to do with that light. And then uncork a bit every time there is misery or unpleasantness. Because it would remind me of just what a brilliant weekend we had in the Quantocks.

Far too tired to write about it now, but it followed the well ridden path of navigational folly, not very motivational encouragement, ocean-emptying fish and chip portions, beer – natch – and some fantastic winter riding with a top crew of riding buddies.

I don’t know many things really, but I do know this. I don’t want to go to work tomorrow – I want to go out and ride my bike instead.

Get off my trails!

The pre-breakfast* Malvern hills ride is full of many wholesome and good things. One of them is the impression that you have this small package of awesome pointedness all to yourself which, considering the barrier to entry must be breached by head torches and frozen knocking knees, seems entirely reasonable. For a good year, we scoffed at the late rising fools playing unhappy slalom with a phalanx of other grumpy trail users.

Until now. Sure we expected New Years Resolutions translating to puffing fatties pushing up hills for a couple of weeks. And there is always the odd introverted rambler lost in his own world so never acknowledging a friendly hello (or a less polite “fck off them you miserable twat“). But these last two weeks, it has gone properly mental.

In the previous 50 weeks, we’ve probably seen a single digit accumulation of mountain bikers before the 9am watershed. Today we say double that in a single ride with a side order of over-wrapped family groups and their mad dogs. And frankly, I find this bloody irritating. Some of it is – I admit – trail snobbery personified by the Colwall Night Riding crowd, who perambulate line astern with ever increasing numbers and ever decreasing velocity. They’re another bunch who cannot find it within themselves to chew the fat with non-groupies, although that may be blindness brought on by an ever escalating Lumen arms race.

Honestly, on a dark night I’m sure the Malvern residents are frantically dialling 999 to report an extremely slow moving UFO. But seeing trail numbers increase by day makes me even more irrationally angry. I want to stop them and demand their cycling credentials “Have you ridden at night EVERY week come rain, wind, snow or creeping apathy?” “What about taking in that extra hill even when you legs are pretending to be un-set jelly” and “Do you know the way of the secret paths? Do you dare ride them when it’s shitty and muddy?”

The answer has to be no, which makes them undeserving in my view, and that’s the view that counts. And I’m counting far too many trail users when only the righteous are up and riding. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised after a recent thread on a cycling forum had so many authoritative voices on winter conditions in these hills. All I can hope for is their enthusiasm will be diminished, and we’ll get the hills back to those who have properly suffered. It’s that or get out of bed even earlier, for which I am insufficiently motivated.

On the slightly less grumpy side of things, we had a brilliant ride and the ST4 is big-grin central over all terrain. My latest fascination for all things statistical shows 5 rides in 8 days, climbing over 8000 feet in a little more than 105 kilometres. So impressed with my performance, my breakfast choices were bacon or egg. I couldn’t quite decide so plumped for both.

Advance warning, Thursday Night Ride this week. And I’m bringing my list of questions and big stick, so be ready if you’re out on my trails 🙂

* which is good as it’d be recycled noisily within minutes of the first climb.

New Years Play.

Blue skies, frozen trails, tea and cake to finish. What’s not to like? Well there is the ongoing digestive conundrum of our dog who – having eaten one of everything at Christmas – started to spray liquid from both ends at high velocity. Mostly in the house. The vet – after spending some time calculating exactly how large the bill would be – recommended a pasta diet and a course of Dog imodium.

Such a get well strategy has resulted in Murphy’s normally happy and loyal demeanor being somewhat tested. Nothing looks quite as sad and depressed as a hungry Labrador on starvation rations and unable to poo. If he doesn’t go soon, we’ll be needing to consider a cesarean.

Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (2 of 19) Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (4 of 19)

Sorry, nobody eating was there? Anyway with the dog plugged, I snook out for a quick ride that ended up being not quick at all. A route away from the crowds on some fantastic frozen trails was one reason, my mechanical incompetence another. Why I ever though that two new chainrings and one new chain would mesh perfectly with an old – and if I’m honest somewhat ground down – rear cassette is a mystery to me.

Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (6 of 19) Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (10 of 19)

Less mysterious was the cacophony of ill fitting teeth failing to establish any kind of interference fit, even with my meagre thigh power applied to the pedals. Eventually I ended up with about three working gears carrying the rest around as mere fitness ballast. The fellas took pity on my plight with a slew of their own mechanicals including a case of such magnificent chain-suck, I thought we were going to have to go in through the stay to release it.

Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (12 of 19) Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (16 of 19)

And with the New Year bringing out the Malvern Hoards to overflow car parks and perambulate on every major off road thorough-fair brandishing new cameras and old fat glands, we embarked on a cheeky tour of the lesser known South Side. Some good stuff there as well accessible only by granny-ring grinds and much facial gurning. For which Tim H of this parish may very well have usurped me as champion gurner.

Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (9 of 19) Malverns 2010 - New Years Day (7 of 19)

We retired after a few hours for the aforementioned tea, cake and medals. I wish I could retire but after spending yet more cash on wide-bar love and boring bits of metal to make the gears work, I reckon I’ll be sharing Murphy’s diet soon.

So 2010 is officially off to a superb start. Just the next 364 days to ratchet up the grump-o-meter.


That bike has had a difficult birth. The frame turned up a little early, but the build went on more than a little late. Much of my afternoon was laid waste while I was forced into using four wheels to tour the county’s bike shops with my new frame. A frame that lacked certain important features such as a proper thread into which it’s traditional to screw the cranks into.

We’ll be back to that, but first pray a reverent silence for the sad news that the Kona Jake has left the building. I’d almost convinced myself not to sell it until opportunity knocked and offered handfuls of hard cash to take it away right then. Of the many bikes sold this one did illicit odd feeling of guilt, because not much had changed since I’d originally bought it. To explain, so many of the (many) bikes I’ve owned (rented) were bought (leased) in a crazy juxtaposition of eye candy and perceived want. And every time they were passed on, I sighed the relief of a man determined not to make the same mistake again.

Ahem. But the Jake was different as it had a dual remit of getting me to work and getting me to go forth and find local trails. Fast-ish on the roads and more than capable on woodland singletrack, it was the perfect hybrid of having to go somewhere and then having fun when you got there. But I rode it off road about three times, and went exploring just the once – that being the day it first came home.

But even with a reduced remit, it was a fine commuter – never let me down and sped through awful conditions for over a year with nothing more than a change of tyres. I could almost justify keeping it for those horrid days when riding a nice road bike feels like bicycling sacrilege, but the counter argument states that I’d just take the car instead whatever two wheeled weather bashing bikes I had hanging up.

And yeah, money talks. So it’s gone, to be followed by the old Kona in the Spring. Until then I’ll be putting a good number of miles on the ST4 assuming the chainsuck it exhibited on the bike stand isn’t a portent of things to come, or my shoddy building skills are not outed in some painful face-plant on the inaugural ride to be undertaken tomorrow. And yet I was entirely guilt free asset stripping the Cove for two very good reasons.

The first is that having ridden the Pace at Afan on consecutive days, it’s absolutely clear that full-suss bikes allow me to ride a whole lot longer and little bit harder. I was pretty surprised at how good I felt after the spine pummelling final descent on the Wall, but less surprised on the leg-weariness of my hardtail riding pal. And yeah, it might be close to cheating and an alternative would be to build up stronger back and leg muscles and stop whinging, but realistically that’s not going to happen.

The second reason is also rather good. The Cove may be nothing but a frame with a few accesorised hangers on, but it’s neither wall art or for sale. A stealth rebuild awaits converting others’ cast offs into another bike to ride when I’m in the mood for a stiff rear end*. Because one thing I do know for sure, and something that has nothing to do with justifying multiple bikes, is that a Hardtail for MTB’rs are like Alfa Romeo’s for petrolheads. You’re not a proper one unless you actually own one.

Whether it’ll get ridden will depend on if the ST4 is anywhere near as good as I remember.

* And as a man of a certain age, this can happen at any time.

It’s not my fault – part 2

Returning from Afan last weekend, my mind was made up that another bike needed to join the “happy shed” of existing lovelies. I’d even managed to meet my rule of “one in and one out” by selling Random’s little bike. Not sure this is entirely in the spirit of that rule either, since we are about to spend about half a bathroom refurb* on replacing it.

However, having reviewed the house budget, it seems we are in the eye of a debt storm that has all the signs of a Gordon Brown like approach of carrying on spending, even when you don’t have any cash. The difference is, we’re unlikely to have much success tapping up the IMF for a loan.

So I’d consoled myself that really spending over a grand on a new frame was going to go down about as well as a squelchy turd on a new sofa. I was going to press on with what I had, and merely invest in some lust and jealousy when my friend’s new one turned up.

I was lamenting this disastrous situation to Tim H who simply turned the tables by sending me a link to a bike site offering three years interest free credit. Thereby chopping my fiscally rationale off at the kneecaps.

Thanks Tim. I may as well go for a custom colour as well eh 😉

* This is the way you start to think about money when a) you don’t have any and b) you’re in the middle of a never ending project to rebuild your house.