Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Mindless ramblings whilst lunching at my desk

Posted by Colin | November 21, 2008 | 5 comments so far

The problem with a black keyboard, such as the one I am pounding away on now, is you really can’t hide just how unhygienic it is to eat your sandwich whilst typing.

There’s enough in there to feed a family of pygmies for a whole week.

Like Mark, suffering from creative cramp of late, I am determined to scribe something for the blog as Matt continues to be the main contributor. My daughter thinks he must be very popular as his mug appears on the homepage far more than any of the other Moles. (by the way Matt, please sort out Lee’s avatar-you’re not doing the lad any favours!).

So, inspired to write but feeling the pressure to at least generate something, there are two topics that sprung to mind after the Wed night ride.

1. Steel is Real

Once Dave P had left the ride at an early stage – Wednesday night at The Bell must be a good ‘un – there were six of us left to trawl through the gloop. Other than our hobby, the other less obvious thing binding us together was the lack of ally-framed bikes between us.

Not earth-shattering I know but you gotta ask why? Have we all rebelled against the industry that tries to convince us that hydroforming alloy into ‘interesting shapes’ is the answer to the world’s (and MTB’s) problems?

Not really. Its much simpler. Some of us also own alloy framed hardtails or have done previously. Its just down to ride quality, feel and feedback. Straight tubing, or even slightly curved steel tubes may not look sexy but for a hardtail, steel seems to work soooo well, especially with the riding we do.

2. Weight Saving

This is something I have never been able to get too excited about in MTB or motorcycling.

Whilst I can see the obvious benefits from not using a 40lb bike for XC work or saving unsprung weight (the weight involved directly in movement of the suspension), I firmly believe there are limitations as to how much the OCD-like infatuation with weight saving helps us in the real world. Particularly if you are a weekend warrior.

So, should I cripple myself to save a massive 15g off ‘yesterdays’ Maxle bolt-through to get the 2009 version? Should I replace all the cap head screws on my brake calipers to save 6g ?

No. I should get off my arse and ride more.

And when I do, I should ride harder, with my ever-so-slightly heavier bike. If I’m able to keep the pace with a heavier bike, then I’m fitter and stronger than I would be with a bike that weighs 1kg less. If you try buying running gear for your bike to save even half a kg over its current level you’ll spend a fortune.

In fact, if I was an XC racer (and I certainly AM NOT), I would deliberately make my bike heavier for all training but remove the ballast weight for race day. That’s the only time I see weight saving as offering a meaningful payback.

There’s a parallel here to many other aspects of the consumerism of the last 20 years. There are now many many new services and products that quite frankly we don’t need. But because we’ve either got too much cash, or have decided to ramp up our mortgages to fuel our spending, we have been indulging too much. In line with our paranoia regarding weight saving, I think this applies in mountain biking too.

Perhaps the recession will do the world a favour, ridding us of some of the crap that fills our lives, thus emptying our wallets and diverting our attention from what really matters. Who knows, in 5 years time, we’ll all be riding average bikes because we’ve realised that unless you compete, it really doesn’t matter significantly what you ride if you are a) skilled and b) fit.

Stick Julien Absalon or Steve Peat on a Raleigh Chopper to ride our trails and you’ll see what I mean.

There-got that off my chest. A bit Victor Meldrew-esque and a lot of generalising I know, and sorry to sound like some activist, but I’m becoming increasingly irked at the volume of brainwashing and crap we have to deal with.



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  1. Matt says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, we don’t need any of the bling stuff the bike industry has convinced us to buy over the years.

    I love my Orange Five but have just as much fun on the On-one, especially since my wrecked derailleur has forced it on me. I’ll probably stick to the hardtail for the winter now.

    But, it’s sooo hard to give up bling. I should get an X9 mech to replace the shagged X0 but I won’t. No logic to that at all.

    And thanks to us funding continued development of the bike breed the standard of even average forks and brakes (the two most crucial bike components) is now astonishingly high.

    As is the fitness of you singlespeed nutters…

  2. Mark says:

    Well said Colin.

    I am amazed at the obsession with weight when riding, espcially when the gains are measured in grams, rather than kilos.

    Mind you, I could do with losing a few kilos of extra weight, unfortunately its not fitted to the bike, it’s in the sodding great spare tyre round my gut!

    I have to disagree about Lee’s avatar. I like it, it makes us look like we have a cultural spread in the group, as his avatar makes him look like a midget who couldn’t manage to get his whole head in the picture!

  3. Colin says:

    LOL !! Only you could put it that way Mark – hilarious.

    Agreed re the bling and despite what I say above, I do suffer from it too. Chris King and his new chocolate coloured kit has not done me any favours.

  4. Dominic says:


    One of the first bits reminded me of my Grandad, ‘that waste of food would feed an ethopian for a week’ not very PC I must agree but then he never was…

    Never really got with the weight weeny stuff when as soon as you go off road at the mo it adds 500g straight away.


    Ps your not the Colin from Groveside are you, grandad lived almost on the tight corner opposite your mum and dads road, if you are that one……

  5. Colin says:

    Yes, I am he Dom and your parents lived down Solefarm Av didn’t they? It’d be great if you joined us on a ride, if you’re still around these parts.

    Wow, Muddymoles is now a social networking site too!

    Hope to meet up soon and catch up.


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