Week 7 

Not much to report. No biking, no adventures, no strength training. Nothing. 

On a brighter note, the ton of prescription meds I picked up from the doctor have taken the edge off, so much so that I’m contemplating a short ride/bivvy tomorrow. 

The upside/downside (depending on whether or not I’m currently looking at my bank balance) is that with all this spare time on my hands I’ve been busy buying essential bike related stuff, retail therapy if you will. 


One such purchase that will certainly get some mileage if/when I ever get back in my stride is a pair of gorilla cages. Similar concept to the Salsa Anything cages, you simply clip them on to your forks using a clever quick release bolt thingy, load them up with up to 1.5kg of gear in a dry bag and away you go. 

Obviously I’ve not tested them in anger yet but so far I’m impressed with their simplicity, practicality (the qr feature means you can easily detach and reattach the cage as needed) and versatility. 

test “carry” with a dry bag full of bike tools


They add a real extra dimension to schleping gear for a bikepacking trip, particularly those awkward items like cooking pots (or bottles of beer) that don’t really fit in a seat post bag or handlebar set up. 

That’s it, hopefully I’ll have some more to report back next week and hopefully it will be less of the moany injury type and more of the “I managed to ride my bike” type! 
 

Pill popping 

So after nearly two weeks and no sign of the pain going away, I booked myself in to see the Dr and I’ve come back with a goody bag full of drugs! 


Naproxen is a weapons grade anti inflammatory. So much so that I need the Omeprazole to stop it tearing a hole in my stomach. 

The Amitriptyline is an interesting one. In a former life it was used as an anti depressant but apparently was pretty useless at this and was instead found to be better at reducing nerve pain. Hopefully that will reduce the feeling of having stinging nettles embedded within my hips. 

Ultimately though I don’t want to be popping pills forever so I’ve also been referred back to see my surgeon who will hopefully be able to advise a plan of action. There was also talk of physio but we decided to wait until I’ve seen the surgeon. 

Whilst I’m missing biking, as it stands right now I’ll just be happy if the trio of pills will help enough to take the edge off as currently even things like driving and sleeping are problematic. 

At least popping the Amitriptyline should mean I feel less miserable about things 🙂 

Week 6 

Halfway through week 5 I’d be struggling with niggling pain in first my right, then left hip which had limited time on the bike. Frustratingly I’d also got a shiny new stead which I was itching to introduce to my local trails. 

Rather foolishly I pushed on past the niggles, took the new bike for a thrash then attempted a bikepacking trip earlier this week. Result, slight niggles turned into major discomfort and I’ve hardly ridden in nearly two weeks. 

I’m now a week out from a two week holiday abroad (with limited chances for biking) and then just over two weeks before London to Brighton. As it stands I’m not feeling confident. 

I’m frustrated as things were going well, I thought I’d be managing the distances and ride frequency well and my hips had been largely holding up. 

This last week however has left me lacking confidence in not only my fitness but also in my hips and whether they are up to the challenge I’ve asked of them. 

I’m certainly not going to make any decisions at this stage but I need to give serious consideration to the L2B. I know that with care, the right training and nutrition I can cover some serious ground, the 40 mile South Downs epic in June proved that, but perhaps I’ve just not got given myself enough time to build a solid base foundation of miles under my belt. 

As it stands now on Sunday, both hips are pain free and I’ll try some gentle rides out next week but I guess only time will tell if I’m feeling up to L2B… 

Life’s a beach 

Two hours since returning home and I’m still sluicing sand out of places best not described in public – a gritty reminder of last nights beach bivvy. 

this way


After my not particularly successful adventure earlier in the week, it was back to basics last night: bivvy bag, beach, beers and a fire. 

fast food


Dinner was taken care of courtesy of the local chippy, leaving us to carry just the essentials. 

The long walk to the beach was backdropped by a beautiful sunset smouldering away behind us and we arrived just as the light was fading. A few Saturday beach goers were scattered along the shore but they soon disappeared along with the fading sun, leaving us with just the constant crashing of waves for company. 

bliss


Bivvy spot chosen, we set about replacing day light with firelight, making the most of an abundance of driftwood scattered amongst the seaweed. 


There’s something about a beach fire that makes it different from a fire in woodland, the exposed nature of the beach and the swirling wind combining to make a more vibrant and energetic burn. 

Whether set in a forest or on a beach, all fires burn out eventually and we drifted off to the crackling embers, only to be awoken by a somewhat larger fire blazing away on the horizon. Nights are short at this time of year and Microadventures arent particularly conducive to a lazy Sunday lay in. 


As tempting as it would have been to linger, the ever increasing light prompted action before we were joined by the morning dog walkers. 


My new Koro stove got to earn it’s keep, getting a moka pot brew fired up before trudging back homeward. 


  

So now, just over 12 hours later, I’m tired and looking somewhat dishevelled but feeling like I’ve made up for my birthday misadventures, a good end to the week! 

homeward bound

Better a bad day on the bike than a good day in the office 

It’s my birthday, it’s the middle of summer, I’ve got a new bike and a day off work. Time to gear up for a microadventure, or so I thought… 

I’d not been on the bike for a week owing to an annoying flair up in my left leg which left me with tight hamstrings and twingy horrible business in hips and adductors. Plenty of stretching, resting and pill popping and I was good (ish) to go. 


Having a birthday day off work in August should be a guaranteed day of blistering heat but this being a British Summer my new Alpkit Kanaga harness was loaded up with waterproofs rather than sun cream, a constant deluge of rain accompanying my morning packing. 

Now, I’m not afraid of a bit of rain (no such thing as bad weather and all that) but today wasn’t even summer rain, in fact it looked like winter outside and as I headed out the door my mood matched the sky – grey. 

Grey turned to black as my route selection failed epically. Just a few miles into the ride I was scything my way through vicious stinging nettles and forests of giant hogweed. My legs are still on fire now! 


A cut through via a small woodland which would have bypassed a busy dual carriageway turned out to be impassable and saw me heading back roughly towards where I had started. I decided to abandon the original destination and instead look for a quiet spot to hang my hammock in a small woods not far from home. 

The woods I’d chosen were heavily coppiced and I spent an hour or so trying to find just two trees thick enough to hold a hammock, turning up nothing suitable. 

bit close to the path


It was at this point that I took stock of the situation. It was raining and the forecast was not looking any better. I couldn’t find anywhere decent to set up the hammock and I’d ridden about 15 miles yet was just a mile or so from where I’d started. I’m not ashamed to say that less than twenty minutes later I was home and waiting for a birthday Chinese to arrive. 


Ultimately Microadventures should be fun. Sure, sometimes you’ve gotta be prepared to rough it a bit but it shouldn’t all be a sufferfest. So I’m gonna draw a line under this particular escapade, take the lessons (perhaps hammocks aren’t quite so versatile, pay better attention to route planning) and move on to the next adventure, the weekend’s not that far away after all… 

Pinnacle Ramin 3+

I’ve been angling after a new bike for a while now. In just four short years since buying my Boardman hardtail, 29ers have become mainstream, 27.5 (or 650b) diameter wheels have entered the foray and just to confuse matters, you can now get both wheel sizes in “plus” flavour. 

Compared to the old standard 26 inch wheels, the new sizes promise more grip, more speed, more control over rough terrain, more everything really, I had to try it out! 

plus size – that’s a lot of rubber!


Looking at the pros and cons of the various options, I’d landed at the decision that a 27.5 “plus” bike was the way to go for the type of riding I do. I’m not an out and out XC speed machine/racer, nor am I an all mountain or trail centre gnarly type. Sure I like single track and sure I’ll hit my local trail centre occasionally but most of my riding is either bikepacking or riding out the door for fitness/fun and maybe trying to blag the odd offroad KOM. 
I didn’t want to spend a fortune, nor did I want a cheap and cheerful rig. I needed something that would stand up to the rigours of bikepacking and let’s face it, the general neglect it’s likely to experience over the years. 

Step forward then the Pinnacle Ramin 3+, a bright orange, plus sized, rigid mountain bike costing £750 from Evans Cycles. Ordered online over the weekend and took a half days leave to collect today (Wednesday). 

box fresh


In the shop I couldn’t escape the fact the the tyres were HUGE! This would certainly be something very different to my old Boardman! It also looked gorgeous, the rigid forks and single chain wheel giving the bike a clean, sleek and purposeful look. It’s painted orange (my favourite colour) and did I mention the huge tyres? 

big tyres need decent rims


The ride 
Rushed home from the shop, frantically scarfed down some lunch and hit the trail. 

On paper this bike is not built for speed. Weight is a good couple of kilos heavier than the Boardman (11.5 vs 13.5) and those huge tyres were certainly going to need some leg power to get them rolling. 

Out in the real world though, this thing flys! Hitting the road before the trail the bike barrels along like a Land Rover, the big tyres humming and buzzing over the tarmac. It’s not going to win the Tour de France but that’s not the point. 

not gonna be Froome’s choice of ride


Hitting the rough stuff the benefits of the big, grippy, bouncy rubber immediately became apparent. The tyres literally eat up mud, gravel, stones, rocks, ruts, fallen branches, hikers, anything! The grip and traction is phenomenal. 

Up the first hill, Strava showed I was a little slower than PR speed but not far off the pace. Halfway up I noticed the seat post slipping down which probably accounted for a loss of power. Quick adjustment and tightening of the QR clamp at the top and I was off again. 

slaying offroad climbs


Over a 9 mile loop I set PRs on a number of sections both flat/twisty and also uphill, including a particularly gnarly uphill Bridleway. I rode this hill on Sunday, setting a PR and beating my previous best by nearly a minute. On the plus bike? Faster by another minute and a half! 

respectable average speed


One other unexpected benefit was on the road. Whilst slow on flat and uphill sections, on the downhills the extra grip and stability meant I could really let loose and fly down without worrying about the front end washing out.  

check out that top speed!


The finishing kit is solid. Nothing flashy but it does the job. The shifting is responsive and I found having a single chain ring/ten speed set up to be a lot less hassle than the twin ring/twenty speed arrangement on my Boardman. One shifter and a full range of gears with no wasted overlaps – simples. 

keep it simple stupid


So, it’s only been one ride and I’ll no doubt add more thoughts once I’ve ridden it in more varied conditions but so far I’m ecstatic. The bike feels comfortable in a way my Boardman never did (just couldn’t get comfy on it) and I came back grinning from ear to ear. 

I think it’s love


I had been considering an Alpkit/Sonder Broken Road but at £1600 I just couldn’t justify the expense. I’m sure it’s a great bike but not so sure it would make me smile more than twice as much as my £750 Ramin! 
Second ride update – short blast tonight, certainly not giving it the full beans and just enjoying being out on my new rig. Even so, across my local Strava segments I was still pulling a good few “podium” times so seems as though the “roll over anything” benefits of the big tyres really do make for a rapid off road machine. 


Only slight dampener was that I noticed a bit of clicking/clacking from the bottom bracket, hoping nothing serious and will flag with Evans when I take it back for its post shop service. 

Week 5 – food, injuries and a new bike

I always struggle with lunch. Not the eating it part, more the logistics. 

I’m not that organised so making a prepared lunch seems like a chore and as I’m often out and about between offices for work, storage and transport become an issue – no one wants a chicken salad that’s been sat in the car all morning. 

fridge required


So yea, it’s a hassle but buying lunch every day gets expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to pick up something suitably nutritious. 

save some for lunch


I’ve therefore made a conscious effort this week to do a little planning ahead. Nothing revolutionary, just simply cook/prepare a healthy evening meal and make sure there’s enough for lunch the next day. No extra work, no extra cost and means I’m using more of my fruit/veg/salad rather than it going off a couple of days after foraging for it in Tesco. 

Highlight of the week was picking up this beauty… 
I’ve written some words about my first impressions here but if you just want a quick review – it’s bloody awesome! 

plus size assisted PRs!

 
Training hampered by a slight twinge in my hamstrings early on in the week which wasn’t helped by over enthusiastic desire to get out on new bike. Rested up since Thursday which has been frustrating but I know is the
right thing to do. 

Certainly one of the frustrations of hip dysplasia is I never know whether it’s my hips causing referred pain or whether I’ve actually injured something. I keep getting recurrences of what feels like hamstring strains and will certainly look at positioning on my new bike but it’s annoying given the work I’ve put in to build up my core and hip strength lately, not to mention the improvements to my diet. 

Looking at the times of some of the Strava segments ridden on my new bike however and I’ve not exactly been taking it easy, perhaps I need to slow it down a little…