Frome Cobble Wobble

a genuine spectacle, in these tea-stirring times; a giant yellow bird riding up a cobbled street:

i met up with a few other fixed-wheel-fiends in Bristol and we rode halfway across the somerset badlands – an intended 21 miles ended up being nearer 30 for some bizarre reason. we startled a horse, unintentionally. jamesy had no brakes, ed felt a bit sick, jamie had a jersey that said ‘ride it like you stole it’ and a boasted a set of incredibly pale legs.

the event was a total blast; a very narrow street lined with eager crowds; a crazed array of riders desperate to get their grubby track mitts on one of the three charge bikes on offer; several outlandish items of fancy dress and a rider pulling a trailer with a child in it.

i learnt the following things: mountain bikes do have a purpose, even if it is only to ride up the 179 yards of st catherine’s hill in the rain at high speed; riding tubs on pave is a stupid, stupid idea, rendered even more stupid by riding high tyre pressures; a very light hillclimb bike is of no use whatsoever on greasy, lumpy, treacherous, horrible cobbles. there was a fairly heavy rain shower immediately before the fixed race kicked off.

apart from that, it was brilliant. occasionally a stupefying, wondrous roar erupted and rolled up the hill in a crescendo of goodwill, heads turned to catch the source, and inevitably, it was something amazing. all pictures thanks to bex at white duck screenprint:

man on full butcher’s bike, piece of tripe:

phone home, right now, tell your mum you’re riding up some crazy cobbles on a bmx with a fricken’ alien in your front basket:

an unusual shot, insofar as you can see both wheels touching the surface of the cobbles:

Testing times

i didn’t really want to ride any great distance today, maybe just a pootle, soft pedalling round town. but in my infinite wisdom i decided to get the TT rig out of the cupboard where it’s been since the end of october and give it a runout in the dry. i’m thinking of doing the frome 10, so thought i should at least have a look. anyway, cue inordinate amounts of faffing around trying to get the right gear; i forgot it didn’t have a miche carrier/sprocket (so much easier to switch around) and it had a hideous big chaintool destroyer of a chain. end result, running 90″, should be good for a flat course with an average of around 25mph, hopefully on or around 90rpm. might need to go a bit higher though, but we shall see.

had a blast up the portway, impressed some chaps with a trackstand, followed by the slowest pedal away from the lights ever. the bars are slightly too low – the tuck brings my knees up to my chest, and the bike might be a tiny bit too small, but it feels really really comfortable, makes an awesome sound (i like to think like the helicopters at the beginning of apocalypse now) and goes like lightning. columbus neutron tubing is pretty darn light. it’s made by vernon barker, semi-lugless, and he’s done an amazing job.

i really like the cinelli angel handlebars too, sort of early modern, a nod to the changes that were coming, and again, very comfy.

“Neuron (0.7-0.5-0.7).  very sophisticated tubing, Columbus pulled out almost all the stops to make a lightweight 0.5mm tubing, using zone butting, elliptical butting, the works: lightweight, yet very stiff. still has a very devoted following among serious steel frame lovers”.

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