Thanks very much! Yeah I feel like the gravelkings and woodchippers are doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of making it less of a sensible hybrid
A small update, (a longer write up will come when I'm home), I am having a bloody gr8 time doing the Caledonia way with my pa. Broke a spoke on the rear wheel a couple of days ago, luckily only had to cycle with it missing for about 30 miles til we found a campsite where the owner very kindly let me butcher a wheel off his old bike and nick one of his spokes. Luckily it was on the non drive side so fairly easy job with a multitool etc. Rode about 100 miles with it like this, when we got to fort william I found a bike shop and asked what 700c rim brake wheels they had... I'm now the proud owner of a new Shimano rs300 wheelset (it was either that or a Raleigh truebuild job which I felt would've been a downgrade from the 20 year old set I had before). I'm... Conflicted about this decision but I didn't fancy doing any more roadside wheel fixing especially with our longest day tomorrow. But it was dreamy to ride the last bit today on a new wheelset, brought me back to my 12yo sk8er days trying out abec 11s for the first time from 5s
Loving the campsite bike butchering. You gonna send the kind bloke a spoke/wheel/bike in the post when you get back?
Jokes aside - glad you could get a new wheelset and keep on trucking. Nothing worse than calling time on a tour because of gear issues, or limping on doing field repairs if you don't have to. Saying that, I'd never make a round-the-world tourer without a support crew...
Cheers, yeah definitely doing that, or at least give his campsite a glowing review on Tripadvisor (once I find out what it was called)
Very pleased with the new wheelset, was considering just buying a couple of extra spokes and making do/hoping for the best, but a new wheelset was on the cards anyway (this isn't the first broken spoke I've had on this wheel). My only worry is the tiny spoke count (16h front, 20h rear), I don't know enough about wheels to know whether this is fine for more gravelly rides, but my original plan was to build up a bombproof set of very sensible touring wheels from spa cycles/SJS, and I'm worried I've now got a pair of potentially flimsy roadie wheels instead now!
If you're interested in a set of pretty bombproof handbuilt wheels (Ambrosio Zenith hubs, 32 spokes, Ryde Chrina rims) drop me a line actually -assuming you're on 700C. I've got a set in my garage gathering dust that need a new driveside bearing on the rear, but I'd be willing to let go for cheap. They've done their fair share of audaxing and the like but they're only a few years old and in great nick.
Interesting, cheers for the offer! I'll have a think, gonna stick with the shimanos for a little while and wait for the buyer's remorse to settle down before I decide what to do
So, time for the customary write up!
My dad and I had been talking about doing a long ride round Scotland for a while. We'd heard good things about the Caledonian way, which worked nicely as we've got lots of family round Speyside and the Cairngorms, so adding an extra bit at the end to meet up with them made a nice way to finish up. I'd used the Muddy Fox for some pretty relaxed tours round Dorset/Sussex last summer but knew I'd need something a bit more sprightly for a 'proper' tour, which was partly my motivation for building up the Trek, as a kind of budget gravel-ready tourer. Overall, we did 253 miles over 4 days, with about 20 miles of pootling to get to the start of the route on the day before. You can see the route we took here: https://www.outdooractive.com/en/route/bicycle-touring/dunoon-to-moy-caledonia-way-9-6-21-to-13-6-21-/213147191/#dm=1
That's the whole route ^, but the itinerary we took was something like this, with each day being between 60-70 miles
Day 0: leave car in Grantown on Spey, cycle to Aviemore, train to Glasgow, mooch round Glasgow, train to Gourock, ferry to Dunoon, cycle to B&B
Day 1: Dunoon to Ardrishaig via Portavadie ferry
Day 2: Ardrishaig to Port Appin
Day 3: Port Appin to Fort Augustus
Day 4: Fort Augustus to Inverness, continuing on route 7 to Moy (plan was to head as far as Grantown-on-Spey but had to bail about 30 miles short)
I had no idea whether or not I was prepared for this ride - I've done long-but-flat rides before (e.g. fens, Netherlands) and hilly-but-short rides (e.g. Dorset) but never hilly and long, over 4 days. My 60-something dad was pretty keen on not camping though, and we were able to stay with various family for half the nights and B&Bs for the rest, so I was pretty happy to at least not have to worry about camping and all the faff that entails.
In terms of kit, my partner gave me some Ortlieb panniers for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, which was a huge upgrade from my original plan of the carradice and whatever bag I could strap to the pizza rack... maybe less instagram-friendly but 1000x more practical and waterproof. I also impulse bought a restrap small frame bag a couple of days before we left, and switched over the brooks saddle from the Muddy Fox (very thankful I made this last minute decision). I probably overpacked given that we weren't doing anything too intrepid, those Ortliebs are pretty cavernous and make it too easy to chuck things in 'just in case'. Very happy with the frame bag for camera, wallet, snacks, and I kept extra layers etc in the drybag strapped to the pizza rack which meant I could get them easily without having to dig around the panniers.
Yours truly showing off his new boik:
The route itself was ace. It was about 85% paved, mostly on incredibly scenic singletrack roads, but with enough gravel and unpaved sections to keep things spicy. It was a very rewarding range of gnarly climbs and long descents, interspersed with two long towpath sections along the crinan and caledonian canals and a family-friendly dedicated bike path on an old railway near Oban. Amazing array of people and bikes along the way, with a heartwarming number of older couples out on e-bikes, a few hardcore handcyclists, and plenty of good old boys on dawes galaxys with battered carradices (love to see it).
Favourite bits were the gravelly section on forestry roads alongside Loch Lochy, and the alpine-like climb out of Fort Augustus followed by a dead straight descent towards the road along the Loch Ness shore, getting up to some insane speedz
A couple of cool things we saw along the way included Neptune's Staircase on the caledonian canal, a short run of 8 locks that elevates boats 19m and takes 90 minutes to get from top to the bottom. We also stayed near Stalker Castle, famous for its appearance in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a fun place to practice your word-for-word recitation of the 'your father was a hamster and your mother smells of elderberries' bit, to the delight of everyone around you
The last day was a slight anticlimax, first because we'd become so reliant on sustrans route signs we took a stupid route through and out of Inverness to get onto route 7 to aviemore, and my knee started screaming at me during the long climb out of fort augustus. Nothing worse for morale than needlessly adding an extra (very hilly) 15 miles onto an already long day of riding! We'd been offered a lift from dad's cousin so ended about 30 miles short of our finish line in Grantown, got a very welcome lift straight to the pub, instantly cheered up with a pie and pint and endless abuse from my extended family
I'd definitely recommend this route particularly to first time bike tourers. It's challenging enough in places to feel like you've scored some good bragging points, but the route itself is so easy to follow you don't need to worry about maps etc, and there were just enough towns and cafe stops to feel like you wouldn't be absolutely fucked if things went south. We met a couple of groups who were bikepacking along shorter sections, doing closer to 30 miles a day which sounded good if you fancy being more intrepid and don't mind being eaten alive by the midgies
Bonus post-tour glamour shot of the Trek with its new wheels. Probably should've cleaned it before taking this but whatevs. Turns out the front wheel is actually a shimano RS100, not 300, not that it matters at all but don't want to post fake news. I've only got 20 year old second hand wheels to compare them to but boy oh boy they are nippy!
Nice photos and write up. Adding it to the list of tours I may get round to at some point, maybe.
If that's the Monty Python castle on the tiny island, weird because it's not at all apparent in the film that it is on an island!
Yeah, I thought the same! Turns out they used a different castle for the close-up shots (i.e. the memorable bits) but then the wider shots are clearly castle stalker on the island, I just didn't remember that bit of the film
Awesome, both the writeup of your adventure and the bike itself! I love coming back to this thread with each update.
Ta very much!
Confirmed my suspicions about the muddy fox fork earlier when I took the front mudguard off, wheel definitely looks out of whack in the forks, and I confirmed the wheel is properly dished etc.
So... Anyone got any recommendations for somewhere in North London that could straighten them up, and cold set the rear dropouts to 135mm while I'm there?
Haven't updated this thread in a while - finally back to thinking about working on bikes again. Turns out a summer consisting mostly of rearranged weddings and stag dos, plus two new cats, really eats into your free time and disposable income...
The muddy fox is currently in the hands of the good people at london bike studio in stokey, to sort out the alignment/spacing issues mentioned above. I've also been ignoring the various creaks and knocks from the BB and headset for a few months too long so they're getting looked at as well. I wanted to DIY that bit but would've had to get all the tools etc and it's already in the shop for other stuff so 🤷♂️ may as well let people who know what they're doing handle it
To do list over the next few months:
Couple of recent-ish pics of the bikes from a recent boggy ride through Epping and a holiday to sussex (plus bonus cat). Trying to get better at taking bike snaps so expect some sexy glamour shots of the muddy fox when it's done
Been mulling over my assortment of bags and thinking a 90s style triangle frame bag for the muddy fox would be dope. The restrap one doesn't really fit the MF frame, so I'd be able to leave that on the trek and this one on the MF to save valuable pre-ride faffing time
Thinking hot pink to match the tange sticker on the frame a la:
Anyone know where to find such a bag?
More fun pootling around fenland bridleways while at my parents this weekend. Didn't bring a bike with me this time, but I still have the bike I had as a teenager stored in their shed. A Scott Yecora, no idea what year, but with some fairly decent components AFAIK. I fixed it up a couple of years ago thinking my partner might want it but she wasn't keen, so it's been sat here for a while.
Despite it being way too small for me now, had a blast bunny hopping over tree roots and bothering dog walkers. Now it's got me scheming to get a similar, if not identical, frame in my size and swap the parts over. Something a bit more suited for boggy Epping rides than the muddy fox.
Also while on the subject of old bikes stored in my long-suffering parents' garage, this is my Raleigh Superbe. Given to me by my uncle who, if he's to be believed, bought it in the 60s, rode it home from the shop and decided cycling wasn't for him, and it's been in storage ever since. I'm inclined to believe him, as it was in immaculate condition when he gave it to me, complete with brooks saddlebag and tool kit. I stupidly used it quite heavily for a year while I was at uni so it's in worse shape now. I'd love to get it running again but it's utterly impractical to have in London #savetherodbrake
(NDS fail cos I couldn't be arsed moving all the other crap to get it down off the wall)
Feel like I'm spamming my own thread with inconsequential updates, but in case anyone's interested in where I'm at with the Muddy Fox, here it is in functional (bordering on agricultural) winter towpath commuting mode:
Most exciting development is the custom made rack bag from @user71349. Really chuffed with it, such a versatile bag and super well made, and fits nicely on the Trek's pizza rack too. Ordering process was super straightforward and turnaround was quick - strong recommend!
Some minor fettling left to do, I also impulse bought one of these retro MTB frame bags from bankrupt bike parts. It will undoubtedly be shit but thought it was worth a punt, the hot pink/yellow combo will go nicely I reckon
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