Saturday, 24 December 2011

Not dead, just restin'

Well, believe it or not, we have been going out and about on the bikes in the last few months since the last post. Some of us have been going out a bit more than others though.
Darker nights, wetter weather, generally not so good for taking pictures and writing about it.
However, there's been quite a few pictures hanging around on the phone camera, so here's a few of them just to prove the bikes have been used.

19th October 2011 - The old "Port Line" near Gatehouse Station, SW Scotland
6th November 2011 - Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel
6th November 2011 - Bowes Railway Path, Leam Lane
20th November 2011 - Hadrian's Cycleway - Blaney Row

That last one's rather artistic, isn't it... taken mid afternoon in a patch of dense fog by the river. Cold for cycling though.
And to prove that we even go out on the shortest day of the year, here's another couple.

21st December 2011 - Bowes Railway Path - A photo of the mist in the valley over Gateshead

21st December 2011 - Here's Ian creeping up the hill. Very wet and muddy, very slow.

Might get out and about again before the end of the year, weather depending.

As an update on the Neoguard, it's been very very good. Really cut down on the mud and splashes hitting you in the face. An excellent investment, well worth buying.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Review: Neoguard Front Mudguard.

As the summer sun starts to set just that bit earlier every night, and the rain starts to become more frequent, those tracks are starting to get a bit wet and muddy. If you're like me, then you'll be sick of racing through a muddy puddle and ending up covered with god knows what from the plume of spray rising from the front wheel.
I'll confess to buying a front mudguard, but being too embarrassed to put it on the bike, which is something considering how embarrassing my bike looks anyway.
It's nothing to do with finding them an absolute sod to fit, nothing to do with that at all.
Actually, a good reason is having to take off a claggy front mudguard just to get at the brakes for maintainance, or load it into the car. Big front mudguards are just a nuisance.

Anyway, step forward the Neoguard from Rapid Racer Products. The internet had thrown up this one, some glowing testimonials for it. A neoprene mudguard that attaches to the front forks, and it's tiny.
So, time for a spot of shopping before the rains came.
This one I'm reviewing was bought from Wiggle. They do 2 versions, the Standard or the slightly dearer Limited Edition, which I had to get as it just looked a bit cooler, me being a natural when it comes to cool.

Wiggle - Neoguard Standard
Wiggle - Neoguard Limited Editon

You can click on the links to have a look. I paid a very reasonable £13.29 for the Limited Edition, and a couple of days later a small jiffy bag turns up.

Inside a nicely packaged Neoguard, with the fitting instructions on the back. Very simple, easy to follow.
Neatly packaged, the instructions are printed on the back

Front and back views. You can see the velco straps used to attach it to the bike.

It 's not a glove, honest.
Anyway, time to fit it to the bike. I'd picked the XS, based on the sizing guide on the website. Quite easy to follow which one to order, though err on the side of small, as you'll want it stretched quite tight for best results.

Really very easy to fit, much easier than other mudguards I've tried.
Much, much easier.

Here it's fitted to the front forks of my Trek

Just tie the top velcro straps around the crown of the front forks, and loop the straps back through the eyelets and attach the velcro to hold it firm.
Then wrap the 3 bottom velcro straps around the fork brace at the bottom just above the wheel and thread them back through the eyelets. This is a little fiddly with the wheel on, but not too difficult.
Best to get it nice and taut, and make sure the mudguard or straps aren't catching on the wheel.

Now, I'm a bit rubbish adding things to the bike, and I managed it in less than 5 minutes, first time as well, so it must be easy.
And that was it. Off out for a test.

The design is quite clever. Water, spray and mud comes flying off your rotating front wheel as usual, but instead of launching into the air at head height, it gets stopped on the back of the Neoguard.
If it gets properly clagged up, as you go over a bump and the forks compress, the Neoguard crumples a bit and deforms, and the mud drops off, so it's self cleaning up to a point.

Anyway, numerous muddy puddles were taken at speed for testing purposes, something I usually avoid doing, and it performed brilliantly. Not a drop of mud or water hit me in the face all ride.

Here's one I made earlier.

Okay, so the photo's a bit blurred. It was rather late and I'd been hammering back along the road from the Black Horse, so the hands weren't too steady to take pictures in the dark.
Anyway, you get the idea. Mud trapped on the back of the Neoguard.
All the big claggy bits had already dropped off when going over bumps.

So, early days yet, I'll update the review as the winter comes on and the mud gets thicker, as some of that mud may find it's way down to the fork seals a bit easier than before, but for now, this is a definite thumbs up. Cheap and effective, wish I'd got one years ago. I shall be recommending these to the rest of the club slackers.
5 out of 5 - (It can have a special graphic)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Another Small Presentation

A little birdie tells me that Ian is the proud recipient of a prestigious 2011 Crash award.
A gallant effort into a hedge on a jaunt up to Parkhead station a couple of weeks ago.

He's been keeping that one quiet he has.

Friday, 29 July 2011

A Small Presentation

While out on Monday for a little jaunt up to Tanfield, Jim came a cropper preparing to cross the roundabout by the Angel.
Always said those cleats were a bad idea.
Wasn't so much a crash, as a topple, and no harm done.

I hadn't the heart to take pictures though.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hownsgill Sprint Challenge

This is one for "Competitive Ian" really, but anyone can feel free to give it a go.

Basically, it's as fast as you can from the Swalwell Visitor Centre at the start of the Derwent Walk, to the Hownsgill Tea Rooms, near the Hownsgill Viaduct past Consett.
That's more or less exactly 12 miles following the Derwent Walk.
This is a sprint for mountain bikes, none of those fancy racers with the slick tyres.
And of course, there's marvellous food to be had at the end, just to spur you on.

So, here's the route.

The route, all 12 miles of it, all uphill.

So, to start you off, here's photo evidence of my time.

That's 1hr 10mins 42s in case you can't see.

So, 1hr 10mins 42s to beat. Shouldn't be too tricky.
If you post your times in the comments, I can always make a leaderboard, but there has to be some photographic evidence.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A Monday Night Ride - Tanfield - 11th July 2011

Approx 14.5 miles

Tentative plans had been made for an evening ride, and despite heavy rain in the afternoon, warm summer sun meant it was fairly dry come 7.30pm.
Ian cried off with the "man-flu", so Jim and I set off from the Horse towards the Bowes Railway path at Birtley, picking up Tim on the way.

The rain earlier meant it was a little heavier under the wheels, a few puddles, but nothing too bad, most of it had dried up.

We sauntered up the steep section to Tanfield, at least the other two did, I was powered by a freshly cleaned and oiled chain, and pork pies and profiteroles (not at the same time), and was in a good hill-climbing mood.

Just for a change, at Tanfield, we doubled back and headed towards the engine sheds, but on the narrow dirt track that runs on the west of the railway at Tanfield.

A bike, and some plants, and a building.

There's quite a view when you get to the vantage point.

Birds. Lots of them.

Those black dots in the picture are Jackdaws, at least that's what our friendly Bill Oddie / Dr Doolittle / Jim reckoned anyway. It was like a Hitchcock film. Trying to find a roost for the night probably. Hundreds of them, kept coming in from Stanley. I've cycled through Stanley on an evening, I can see why they were leaving.

"Ladies.... please form a queue"

The bomb goes off over Consett

Well, as the sun was beginning to set, time to head back, 'cos as usual, Jim didn't have any lights.
"I'll ride on the pavement" he says.

A railway picture for Jim.

So, that was it. We hurtled back down the way we'd come, always a fun descent, slogged up the other side of the valley and back to the pub, where I left Jim getting a pint.
"Just stopping for one".
A likely tale.

Make your own caption up. I've got no idea.
This picture was lurking on the camera, so I'll let you post a caption for it in the comments.
The winner gets my undying gratitude for being the first to post a comment. Ever. Pah.