Bored of the Flies

I was up to date at work, and I had some flexitime owing, and the woods were calling. So it was time to take the MUni out for some serious riding. I went up to Sherwood Forest and decided that I would have a policy of taking the more difficult option at every junction. (Usually, my love of big numbers makes me tend to ride ‘cross country’ for long distances, rather than really testing my skills on technical sections.)

So it was off up the hill, then along the rutted forest track, ducking under the low branches, then up the next hill, and over the small hump and onto the soft soil and sand, and small tree branches lying across my path. I’m not much of a one for hopping, but I did manage to ride over most of the branches up to about 4 inches diameter. My first dismount was when there was no way past a fallen tree - I’d done about 1.5 miles (2.5km) of hard but slow riding. Already I was out of breath, and my heart was pounding.

And stopping was a mistake, because the flies descended on me. I was the centre of my own cloud of insects, buzzing and landing on me, crawling up the insides of my wristguards… time to ride on.

Lots of uphill, quite a bit of downhill, beds of sand and gravel, and a difficult route to pick between the deepest patches. The new Gazz, whilst only a 2.3 section seems to cope a whole lot better than my old 1.95. The handle helps too - and now I’m learning when to use it and when to ignore it. I’ve even learned that in the event of a UPD, I can leap forward with my left leg out and the handle misses my Achilles tendon!

Then I find myself on a waymarked mountainbike trail, but a pretty simple one. It needs concentration, but there’s only the odd obstacle which instils doubt… and I ride them all without falling. I can’t do hops, jumps or drops, but I can roll… it’s all about picking the route, timing, and control. I’ll have to learn to hop, jump and drop some time, though.

Squirrels climbing trees, a rabbit hopping along the path in front of me, the sound of pine cones falling and clattering against the lower branches… other than that, almost no sounds at all. I could be the only person for miles. In fact I see only three people in the whole 2 hour ride, and I think one of those was the same person twice!

I impress myself with quite a long, steep and, by my standards, technical climb. At the very top, the slope becomes almost too steep to ride. I stall and start to roll back. A few months ago, I would have bailed out. this time, I manage to stop the roll back, with the front pedal almost at the point of no return. I stomp on the pedal, pull on the handle… and stall again… I manage to catch the rollback, and with a massive effort, make it over the top. I don’t know how good I really am, but I know how good I felt.

Every time I stop, the flies are swarming. I’ve not met this problem on the MUni before, and, frankly, it’s jolly irritating. My language deteriorates. Perhaps it’s because I’m so much slower on the MUni; perhaps it’s the time of year; all I know is that MUni is less fun when you can’t stop for a breather because of the flies.

I make it to the famous ‘desert’ and find new confidence riding across soft sand. How much of this is the Gazz, and how much is my improved riding? The Gazz is smaller section than the Coker tyre, but the Coker’s too tall to recover easily from a sideslip.

The last section is too sandy to ride. I try, and do pretty well, but within a mile or so, I’ve tested both knee pads, both wristguards, both elbow guards and my helmet - and I can confirm that they all let sand IN but they don’t let sand OUT. I walk across to a parallel track, but I’m too tired to fight the worst of the bumps, the nettles and brambles are too aggressive, and the flies are really starting to annoy me big time… I end up walking, with the MUni over my shoulder. I come to the last 50 yards, swing the uni down, misstime the move and punch myself in the face. I get to the car, feeling under siege from the flies, throw the MUni in, leap in, slam the door, and 6 of the little blighters follow me in. They’ve made a bad decision…

8.5 miles approx, in about 2 hours. Comparing that average speed to my usual write-up shows how hard the riding was. But, apart from the flies, it was fun.

[B]

[/B]The key to traction is matching the tire to the surface. Soft sand or snow requires low pressure. I’d bet a pint that your Gazz was at signicantly lower pressure than your Coker tire. Although there is some tread difference, and a minor footprint size difference, the key thing here is lower pressure and softer, more flexible tire material.

I was out last winter on the Coker in snow on single and double track and found that dropping the pressure an obscene amount made a big improvement in traction.

Surprisingly, I was running the Gazz at 142 psi (for speed), although I will lower the pressure a bit on the next one as it burst in my car on the way home due to thermal expansion the moment I put the heater on to clear the windscreen. Please email the pint as a Word doc. to Mikefule(at) aol.com

(From the Ministry of Good Tries):wink:

Re: Bored of the Flies

We had a similar problem on the muni rides in Minnesota at the NAUCC (the national convention) this year. Only instead of flies it was mosquitoes. Most any time you stopped the mosquitoes would get you. It definately made the stopping less fun.

142 psi? Not. No pint, sorry, not even zipped to 20% of original volume.

Oh, and yes it should be significantly, not signicantly.

Re: Bored of the Flies

On Mon, 1 Sep 2003 15:01:10 -0500, Mikefule
<Mikefule.t3fgt@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>At the very top, the slope becomes almost too steep to
>ride. I stall and start to roll back. A few months ago, I would have
>bailed out. this time, I manage to stop the roll back, with the front
>pedal almost at the point of no return. I stomp on the pedal, pull on
>the handle… and stall again… I manage to catch the rollback, and
>with a massive effort, make it over the top.

I imagined what that looked like, and it was funny and impressive at
the same time.

As for them flies: they can be a big nuisance indeed. In this season,
the little beasts have a habit of entering my helmet through the
ventilation slits, manoeuvre themselves between my bold skull and the
inner padding, and then make bzzzzz-bzzzzzz sounds (and feelings!)
that don’t help a thing but are irritating bigtime.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

I go a sort of ok speed on my Coker… - Roger Davies