Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Partial Framebag - (DIY/MYOG)

I wanted to make a partial framebag to utilize the space within the triangle without compromising the bottle cage position and or easy handling of the bike. I salvaged a suitcase from a neighbour’s trash. Everything was hand stitched.

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The majority of the material is a relatively stiff foam, with fabric on the outside. This was all from the suitcase, minimizing the necessary stitching. Salvaged suitcases are good sources of material for this kind of work – they’re often available, and the materials tend to be water resistant. The outer material possesses a reasonable mixture of flexibility and stiffness, and is often not too difficult to work and stitch through.

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I cut the basic shape with a pocket knife and used a scalpel to score out the grooves where the folds are. It’s very stable in my mountain bike, as it was specifically designed to fit the frame. Fortunately, it also happens to kinda fit into my Crosscheck frame. The bag isn’t waterproof, but the foam should repel water, and any that gets in should drain out through the zip. It weighs ~160 grams. Every tool inside is held with elastic material, because I'm hella cool.

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It works well, I'll probably make two small modifications at some point - a buckle to change the length of the strap attaching to the down tube. This would allow a secure attachment to both my bikes. I may stitch sections of inner tube to the attachment straps. This should increase the stability, even though it's already very stable.

Framebags are a good DIY project, they're expensive to buy and not too difficult to make. There are dozens of variations available, if you wanna have a crack at at making one, I'd recommend making a model out of cardboard to check it fits and everything. You can then cut this model up and use it as a template for cutting the material.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Wentwood Forest - Downhill Trail

Wentwood forest is an ancient woodland to the north-west of Newport in South Wales. It's hella pretty, and home to a very good downhill trail, as well as numerous forest tracks and cross country singletrack trails. The autumn is an excellent time for the vibrant forest colours, although, unsurprisingly, the ground is sloppy as all hell.

The downhill trail starts about here, winding through the woods, heading west, along relatively flat terrain. The trail is dominated by roots, but a lot of fun. After meandering through the woods, the trail starts heading north west and downhill. Trail features are more obviously intentionally constructed here, including berms and jumps.


View Wentwood Downhill Trail in a larger map

The local mountain biking association have not revealed the route of the downhill trail. Their website is apparently no longer active, so I've put the map here. If anyone from the local club would like it removed, I'm happy to oblige - contact me with the address here.

I haven't got photos of the last third of the trail, but in current conditions it was constant error correction, basically surfing down the hill on the tide of leaves and mud. It was good fun - and none of the drops were obligatory - some of the beginnings of the sections were steep and fairly sketchy. In general, even novice downhiller will be mostly fine.

The crisp leaves and (occasionally) clear skies of autumn.

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The forestry commission have been busy.

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Looking south-east, towards the Severn.

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Elliot cocoons himself against the cold.

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Trail slop.

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Two steeds o' aluminium at rest.

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Amphibious riding.

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The flat part of the trail winds through the coniferous trees - it's rooty and rugged and a lot of fun.

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The trail goes over a bridleway/track, and starts another section. This section is currently dominated by a comically thick covering of leaves.

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Elliot rails the berm on the first section of the downhill.

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Wentwood Forest is great fun. The downhill trail is fun and challenging in places, but mostly just a good time. Much of the singletrack is delightfully rugged. Aside from the main downhill trail, there are numerous little pieces of singletrack and normal footpaths throughout the forest to be found.

Friday, 1 November 2013

South West Coast Path - Hell's Mouth and Godrivy Point

This is a small update, focusing on the photography than a day-ride, so I won't bother with a proper route map. We rode north-east along the beach in St. Ives bay from Hayle, then joined the south-west coastal path around Hell's Mouth for a few kilometres, before doubling back and riding around the Knavocks and Godrivy point.

The Cornish beaches are not overrated. This one is about fifteen seconds from Hayle, after some navigating through beach-side community and some sandy single-track through the towans.

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Shockingly, the dry sand was not particularly ridable.

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The wet sand provided enough solidity and traction to allow (comparatively) easy riding.

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We left the beach and climbed on the road up to Fishing cove, joining the south west coastal path.

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Looking north along the coastal path. This was all ridable, a cross bike would be fine for the short section we rode. The path follows the edge of the cliff closely, so riding conservatively is a necessity.

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From Godrivy point, looking north.

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The light house on Godrivy island.

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We went to St. Ives the next day, mostly to collect photographic evidence of oddly worded signs, and piles of damp fishing gear.

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The South-west coastal path goes for miles, with some excellent views of rugged cliffs. I reckon there's a hell of a good ride along the coast path, starting around Ilfracombe and heading south-west.