A ride across Wales

12 Aug

Day 1 – Holyhead to Caernarfon

A last minute holiday plan became a ride across Wales from Holyhead on the island of Anglesey to Cardiff Bay following the National Cycle Network Route 8.  It was only 4 days prior to departure we decided on the trip and luckily not much planning was required other than deciding on some campsites and picking up some maps for the route; which I initially forgot.

For the North of Wales I picked up three Ordnance Survey 1:50000 maps the day before; I really like using these maps for touring, for long distances a few are needed but they allow detours to be plan and its easy to read the terrain.  The National Cycle Network is already marked on the maps but I find it can be difficult to follow through a map case whilst riding so I often highlight my route before leaving the house.

Cycle Routes on OS Maps

Kate booked the train from Cardiff to Holyhead for 5:10 am on Monday morning which meant a very early start; we left our home at 4:30 to get to the station with a light drizzle of rain.  After a short delay we were off with a change over at Chester where I almost left a pannier bag behind and eventually we ended up in a wet Holyhead.

Bicycles at Cardiff Central

Kate appearing to be still asleep whilst waiting for the 5:10 am train

We arrived in Holyhead at 10:35 am, on the way we had a change over in Chester with time for breakfast and then the next train went direct to Holyhead along the north Wales coast; at £26 each the tickets were a bargain considering it was a five and a half hour journey.  It didn’t take us long to leave the train station via the ferry terminal in Holyhead; we slipped on our waterproofs and at the end of the carpark found the route that would take us back to Cardiff.

Cycling in Anglesey

We started the journey in light rain.






The longest place name in Europe; one of the most popular tourist attractions on Anglesey. Go on try saying it!

I cycled across Anglesey a couple of years ago; whilst the route is quiet and mainly flat winding through the countryside and past the RAF base its rather unexciting but not unpleasant.


Looking down from the Menai Bridge


View over the Menai Strait


After a couple of hours we found ourselves at the Menai Strait and crossed the Menai Bridge to Bangor; route 8 avoids the town and we carried on towards Caernarfon.  The route becomes a lot more interesting dropping down to the coast before heading into the walled town which holds an impressive castle.



Caernarfon Harbour


Caernarfon Castle


The Romans built a fort in Caernarfon around 80 AD and the castle that exists today was completed around 1322 after being started by Edward I.  The town is surrounded by castle walls and is certainly worth a visit, its also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Route 8 heading south from Caernarfon

We picked up some supplies and called a nearby campsite just 15 minutes ride away.  Our Campsite for the night was Hendy Farm; a very small site with basic facilities and right on the route; its a working farm and in a nice spot, the facilities are adequate but are very basic.



We packed a chopping board for the first time.


Jack the farm dog wanted to play catch, he also pissed on the tent and dribbled on my matress. Lovely dog!


Oops; I put to much in the pan.

It was an easy day of riding, it was mainly flat with no challenging climbs.  The roads across Anglesey were very quiet and from the Menai bridge onwards it was mainly traffic free.  As we got up at 4 am to get the train from Cardiff to Holyhead we were very tired by the end of the day so 33 miles was just enough.


Surly Troll

9 Aug

I got the Surly Troll in 2011 and 2 years on I thought it was a good time to post an update.  I bought the 16″ frame and fitted it with an Alfine 11 speed hub.  I had the wheels built up with tough Rigida Sputnik rims.  The Troll has 26″ wheels and I’ve done quite a bit of off road touring with panniers and they are in great condition; the wheels are super tough but very heavy.  I recently changed the rack to a Tubus Cargo and when removing the old rack I realised the bolts were bent. I assume this is from the off road riding with panniers; I was surprised the bolts bent and the wheels have stayed absolutely true.   But the bike weighs a ton, its very slow (with me pedalling), covering 50 miles on this bike is really hard work and since getting a Surly Disc Trucker I have stopped using the Troll for touring; it now gets used for trips around town, hauling stuff and days when I’m not in a hurry.

Surly Troll

The Surly Troll

The Build details:

  • Alfine 11 Speed Hub
  • Rigida Sputnik Rims
  • Shimano Deore M545 Chainset and Bashguard
  • Shimano M324 Clipless SPD-Flat MTB Pedals
  • Tortec Rear Rack
  • Tubus Duo Front Rack
  • Continental Trave Contact Tyres
  • Brooks B17 Honey saddle
  • Avid BB7 Disc Brakes
  • Shimano Deore Brake Levers
  • SKS Chromoplastic Mudguards
  • FSA Stem
Surly Troll Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub Avid BB7

The Troll has a Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub with Avid BB7 brakes

Surly Troll Shimano Deore Chainset Shimano M324 Clipless SPD-Flat MTB Pedals

Shimano Deore Chainset with the Shimano M324 pedals

Surly Troll Rigida Sputnik Tubus Duo SKS Chromoplastic SLX Front Hub

Rigida Sputnik rims with Continental Travel Contact tyres and the Tubus Duo rack.  The Rims weigh a heavy 630 grams each!

Alfine Shifter

Surly Bicycle

Surly Troll Rear Rack mudguard

Surly Troll Front rack mudguard

Surly Troll brooks saddle

Surly Troll Conwy

With hindsight I should have probably gone straight for a Surly Long Haul Trucker but it took me a few years of touring to actually get a dedicated touring bike.  I base that on my background in mountain biking; the first bike I used for touring was an On-One Inbred and one of the main reasons I replaced the Inbred with the Troll was due to the lack of rack fixtures, bottle cages and mudguard mounts.  I love the idea that the Troll is a go anywhere bike and I think it really is apart from carrying loads of stuff stops any bike from being a go anywhere bike; I can see me taking up bike packing at this rate!

Orange Surly Troll

The Troll in Cornwall

Surly Troll

The Surly Troll on the Balmoral during a trip across the Bristol Channel to Ilfracombe

Surly Troll 14" frame organe

Surly Troll in Rhyl on Route 5

Surly Troll riding in the snow

Surly Troll with 2.5″ tyres

Surly Troll

Surly Troll

Not long after I got the Surly Disc Trucker I contemplated selling the Surly Troll but I just couldn’t do it.  I’ve ridden it on some great trips and I still love riding the thing.  But when it comes to touring trips the Surly Disc Trucker is going to win every time; even if the route is unpaved I’m confident the Trucker is going to be fine.  The Troll is a great go anywhere bike and I’ve ridden it fully loaded over some crazy terrain but riding the bike all day is hard work; I think the wheels have a lot to do with this; the rear wheel with the heavy Alfine Hub and Sputnik Rim; rotating those things takes a lot of effort.

So whats next for the Troll; maybe a rebuild or just some tweaks.  I have a Shimano Deore group set off my old Scott MTB and I might transfer the bits to the troll to see how it rides with a normal drive train rather than an internal hub gear.  Last winter the mudguards came off and 2.5″ tyres went in during the snow; that was a lot of fun.  The bike is certainly versatile and I’m unlikely to ever grow tired of it.

My Surly Disc Trucker

7 Aug

If you read the last post you will already know Kate got a Surly Disc Trucker last year and as I said; I got a little jealous.  It was also hard work keeping up with her when I was on my Troll which is pretty hefty.  So this year I decided to get my own Surly Disc Trucker!  I had secretly been buying the parts over the last 9 months and they had all been delivered to my office and mostly kept in my desk drawers; who needs paperwork?

My Disc Trucker is a 46 cm frame which fits me perfectly, I'm 5'2".

My Disc Trucker is a 46 cm frame which fits me perfectly, I’m 5’2″.

I took my time choosing the parts slowly acquiring them as they came on sale.  Deciding on the gearing was the biggest part; I would have preferred 9 speed for reliability but I already had a set or Shimano 105 STI shifters from a groupset deal I had; I had used the rest of the parts on Kate’s Tifosi rebuild and only had the shifters left.  They are 10 speed triple shifters with the gear cable exiting the side; I did consider the newer 105 model where the gear cable is hidden but I was told this was not so reliable although it avoids cables getting in the way of a bar bag.

Surly Trucker STI Shifters bar bag

Surly Disc Trucker with Ortlieb Bar Bag

The Shimano 105 shifters are designed to work with road derailleurs and there isn’t a road derailleur that works with a 36 tooth rear cassette.  It turns out that the pull ration on the Shimano mountain bike 10 speed rear derailleur is different to the pull ration of their 10 speed road shifters.  So to get the 10 speed setup to work I had to fit a Shimano 9 speed rear derailleur; the results are good with reliable shifting and 30 gears!  In case your wondering its 11 – 36 teeth on the cassette and 48/36/26 rings on the chainset.  The chain I originally fitted was only 114 links and after 400 miles I replaced it with 116 links which improved the shifting on the front chainset; I also fitted a cheap gear cable which I picked up in a local bike shop when I built the bike and this seemed to be constantly stretching so I changed this for a Shimano cable.

The Disc Trucker is a 10 speed.  To make this work I have 9 speed rear mech and 10 speed cassette

The Disc Trucker is a 10 speed. To make this work I have 9 speed rear mech and 10 speed cassette

For the chainset I opted for Shimano’s XT Trekking set with 48/36/26 rings and 170mm crank length; the model number is FC-T781.  If I had gone for a 9 speed build this would have been considerably cheaper with a Shimano LX option or I could have gone for a cheaper 10 speed Deore; it turned out that the chainset was the most expensive part after the frame.  I had difficulty buying one in the UK and in the end I had it shipped from Germany.  It has a chainguard which is really useful when I want to pop into town or go to work on it.

I decided to go for the XT trekking pedals with an SPD clip on one side; it turns out they are lighter than the dual sided Shimano SPD pedals I normally use; again very useful for going to work with normal shoes or running errands and occasionally wearing sandals in the sunshine.  On two of the trips I have been on I have taken some Gore-tex shoes for the rain and although the flat side of the pedal is great in the dry its got no grip in the wet; the tread on the Merrell Gore-tex shoe I use is designed for hiking and isn’t very good with most pedals but its useless with these in the rain, ideally I would like a pair of waterproof shoes with a flat tread for platform pedals but I haven’t come across anything yet.  I like a pair of waterproof trainers for rainy days, cold weather and camping in the wet.

Shimano XT FC-T781

Shimano XT Trekking Chainset

Shimano XT PD-T780 Pedals

I opted for the Shimano XT Trekking pedals which have an SPD clip on the opposite side.

The bike has a Tubus Cargo Classic Rack on the rear and a Tubus Tara Lowrider on the front.  The 46 cm frame only has the option for 26″ wheels and I fitted SKS Chromoplastics mudguards to the bike.  On the rear of the rack is a Cateye light which is permanently fixed; I thought it would have been knocked off by now whilst touring but despite its vulnerable position its remained untouched.  Fitting the rear rack and mudguards posed no problems and the frame design is well thought out; there are a couple of small differences between the 46 cm size and some of the larger frames; there is no pump boss below the toptube for mounting a frame pump and there is only clearance for a small 500 mm water bottle on the underneath of the downtube.

Surly Disc Trucker SKS Mudguards and Tubus Cargo rack

The Trucker has a Tubus Cargo Classic rack and SKS Chromoplastic mudguards and Cateye light

Fitting a front rack and mudguard to the Disc Trucker proved problematic as it did with the Surly Troll and Kate’s Surly Disc Trucker.  Kate’s Disc Trucker doesn’t have a front rack and I was able to bend the mudguard stay around the Avid BB7 brake and keep the SKS secu-clip in place.  With the Tara rack mounted to the Disc Trucker there wasn’t room for it on the calliper side so I had to remove the clip but the bike does have on on the other side.

The Avid BB7 brakes are excellent; I have fitted the road version to this bike as I have road levers and the pull ratio is different to flat bar brake levers; they are very powerful in all conditions, very easy to maintain and set up.  I also have them on the Surly Troll and Kate has them on her Surly Disc Trucker.  On my mountain bike I have some Avid hydraulic brakes and I must say I prefer the cable version, less force is needed to operate the hydraulic brakes but I find the Avid hydraulic brakes can be problematic and I have had trouble with the pistons sticking.  The cable discs for touring work very well; there is plenty of stopping power and recently when I buckled the front wheel I did not have the issue of the rim rubbing on the brakes as I would with conventional rim brakes.  I run a 180 mm rotor in the front and a 160 mm rotor in the rear.  The only drawback I can find is fitting mudguards is more difficult but it can be easily overcome; and there is no need to bend the mudguard stays as I have if you fit a spacer where the stay attaches to the frame.

Surly Disc Trucker Avid BB7 Road brake SKS mudguards Tubus Tara rack

The SKS mudguard stays needed bending to fit around the Avid BB7 brakes.

Surly Disc Trucker with BB7 brake and SKS mudguard

To fit the mudguard I had to remove the secu-clips on the disk brake side.

Surly Disc Trucker, fenders and Tubus rack

The Surly Disc Trucker has a Tubus Tara Lowrider fitted to front with SKS mudguards.  The secu-clip is fitted on this side.

I wanted to keep the wheel weight down and I fitted a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Racer tyres which are 26″ x 1.5″ and weigh a low 390 grams.  They have some puncture protection but from what I gather most of the weight is saved in the tyre wall.  I got them on sale at an amazing £15 each; at the time I wasn’t sure if they were going to be tough enough but after 600 miles most of which has been with full camping gear and quite a few of those miles on unpaved routes I am really happy with them.  I want to buy more but the cheapest I can find a pair for now is £60!  For a few years I have been using Continental Travel Contact Tyres which is a good strong tyre for on and off road touring, but they do weigh 690 grams each and the profile means they are slow rolling.

Schwalbe Marathon Racers Surly Disc Trucker

The wheels came off an old mountain bike; the rear was rebuilt a couple of years ago using a Mavic XM 317 on a Hope hub; I had new bearings pressed into the hub at the time and the cassette body serviced; the wheel is light weight and so far its withstood a heavy touring load on some rough ground although I do take it easy.  Mavic rims don’t have a reputation for touring on and I will be keeping an eye on it.  I have considered some touring rims but at this point the reliability of the Mavic is proving just fine.  The front wheel is another matter; its probably about 10 years old and although a great mountain bike wheel in its day it is now in need of a rebuild and new bearings.  The spokes are bladed and its a lightweight cross country rim; I will be replacing it very soon.  When I built the Troll I wanted a go anywhere bike but I found the weight of the thing stops me using it on some trips or just not going at all; it can certainly cope with tough terrain fully loaded but pedalling it on a 50 mile ride is hard work; the wheels are mostly to blame for its weight with the Alfine hub and the Sputnik rims and robust tyres so I am keen to keep the wheel weight low on the disc trucker.

Surly Disc Trucker Thomson post

I fitted a Thomson seat post to the Trucker with a Charge Spoon saddle

Its the best bike I have built to date; I’ve done 600 miles on it so far and its been great; by keeping the wheel and tyre weight down this has made a difference even when loaded up and so far its worked out well.  Its very comfortable and I have got a few rides in which have been over 70 miles long with a reasonable average speed.  The 10 speed groupset is working out fine and the short drop bars are really good; a recommendation  from Curtis.  I should have gone for the Surly Trucker instead of the Troll a few years ago but its taken me some time to evolve from mountain biking to becoming a tourer; I will assume its a case of growing up.

Mountain Biking in the Isle of Skye

Mountain Biking in the Isle of Sky in July 2010. That is the same wheel as on the Trucker now!

Kate’s Surly Disc Trucker

5 Aug

Kate got a disc trucker late last year; I must admit I got a little jealous and its way to big for me to ride!

Kate's finished Surly Disc Trucker complete with Ortlieb Bar bag and trekking bars

Kate’s finished Surly Disc Trucker complete with Ortlieb Bar bag and trekking bars

Kate had been riding my On-One for a couple of touring trips we made, it was too small for her and wasn’t great for long trips.  She got a Surly Disc Trucker which is fitted with Avid BB7 cable disc brakes.  She didn’t like the drop handlebars on her old Tifosi road bike so she decided to go for trekking bars on her new build.  I got her a set of Hope Pro2 wheels with Mavic 717 rims, the wheels are super light and with some Panaracer Pasela 1.25 tyres the bike is great climbing hills and provides a fast ride.  With this said its not a lightweight bike to lift up but saving weight on the wheels makes a huge difference, even with a kitted up touring bike.

Hope Pro2 Evo Hubs with Mavic 717 rims on Surly Disc Trucker

Hope Pro2 Evo Hubs with Mavic 717 rims

I had the Panaracer Pasela tyres hanging around, I bought them back in 2001 for a mountain bike and never fitted them.  I expected them to split on their first ride but they seem to be in great condition.  At 1.25 they are a bit narrow for a touring bike so a tyre upgrade is needed, maybe 1.50 tyres will be more comfortable for Kate.

Surly Disc Trucker SKS fender mount

The disc brake calliper is in the way of the mudguard stay which seems to be the case with all front disc brakes and mudguards.

I have fitted mudguards to a couple of bikes with disc brakes and each time there has been an issue fitting the mudguard stays.  Normally its a case of the disc calliper is in the way, the simplest solution is to use a longer bolt to mount the stay to the fork with a large spacer.  I decided to take the more complicated and longer step of shaping the mudguard stay around the calliper, it wasn’t too difficult to do with two pairs of pliers and I think it looks pretty good!

Surly Disc Trucker with trekking bars and Ortlieb Ultimate 5 bar bag

Kate’s gone for Trekking bars, she seems to be happy with them and the Cinelli Cork Gel Tape is really comfortable. The bar bag sticks out a long way and when its full it can act like a pendulum.

The top cable is for the rear disc brake.

The outer cable is for the rear disc brake.

Hope Wheels with Avid BB7 Brakes

Hope Wheels with Avid BB7 Brakes

The Pro 2 Evo hubs are smooth although the cassette body on the rear wheel clicks like crazy and when Kate is free wheeling its rather loud.

Deore rear mech with an XT cassette.

Deore rear mech with an XT cassette.

Bicycle Spoke Holder on Seat Stay

The spoke holder mount was not welded on straight and the space is too big for all three spokes, I was disappointing and didn’t expect this from Surly.

The spoke holder is mounted on the seat stay, the mount has been welded on at an angle rather than at 90 degrees and not all 3 spokes can be mounted.  I found out after the bike had been built and returning the frame seemed like a lot of hassle.

The bike has three bottle mounts and all of them hold 750 ml bottles.

The bike has three bottle mounts and all of them hold 750 ml bottles.

Disc Trucker Avid BB7 brakes

Surly Disc Trucker with Trekking Bars

Surly Disc Trucker with Trekking Bars

Since this photo was taken we have fitted a much longer stem.  Kate is getting on well with the trekking bars and prefers them a lot more to drop bars.

Disc Trucker Trekking Bars

The Bars are covered with Cineli Gel tape and are super comfortable, highly recommended.

Surly Troll and Disc Trucker

Surly Troll and Disc Trucker

Kate’s Surly Disc Trucker and my Surly Troll; they couldn’t be more different bikes.  My Troll is very comfortable but its very heavy with an Alfine 11 speed hub and Rigida Sputnik rims, Kates bike has a super light wheelset.  My Troll is like a Massey Ferguson tractor and Kates Trucker is like a Volvo estate car, there’s definitely a place for both.  Some of the trails I’ve ridden on the Troll I wouldn’t want to ride on a trucker but the trucker can definitely eat up more miles than the troll.

The road to Llanelli

3 Aug

In days 1 and 2 of our cycle trip from Abergavenny to Llanelli Curtis and I travelled along roads with the names “Gospel Pass” and the “Devils Staircase” perhaps we should have planned the 3rd day along roads with similar biblical connotations but it was a pleasant but long trip to Llanelli.

I was familiar with most of the route as I had ridden it the year before during a 200 km Audax ride called the Carmarthenshire Snapper although I hadn’t told Curtis the name had the word snapper in it when we planned the route.

The route followed some quiet roads through some beautiful valleys and we made good progress along the way.

Pub outside Rhandirmwyn

Pub outside Rhandirmwyn

Bridge at Rhandirmwyn

Bridge over the River Towy

Carmarthenshire Snapper RouteP1010646


He is just sleeping.

Well Rotted

This sign made me laugh!

Lunch Stop

Lunch Stop

Well Rotted Manure - Free

In my tired state I misread this sign when passing and had to look twice!

Dead Graveyard

Dead Graveyard; it seems rather than cut the grass somebody decided to spray it.

The distance for the day was 55.8 miles; it was the first time I had ridden Route 47 the entire way from the Wales National Botanic Gardens to Llanelli and I was surprised to find a large hill along the way but once we got on to the old railway line which Route 47 goes along we cruised mainly down hill into Llanelli and the route was superb.

We arrived in the town with only 30 minutes to wait for the next train back to Cardiff; it had been a great trip with some epic scenery and some epic hills to climb; definitely one to do again.

The Devils Staircase

1 Aug

Day 2 of our ride from our campsite a few miles outside Hay on Wye to Builth along Route 8 before heading west on Route 43 from Builth Wells.

We left the Newcourt Farm campsite which was a great site just off Route 8 and headed through Glasbury and up to Builth Wells.  Its a ride I have done in the past and its a pleasant route cycling along the River Wye.  There are some nice villages along the way and the road to Builth is interesting although you can’t see much of the river through the trees.

Campsite on NCN 8

Curtis on Route 8 at the junction for Newcourt Farm campsite

Heading through Glasbury we crossed the river Wye.  I love to canoe down this river and as we crossed the bridge they were launching some canoes.  A couple of years ago I paddled to Hereford over 3 days from this spot, it was a great trip with some nice pubs and a great orchard campsite along the way.


Canoe hire on the river Wye

The road to Builth Wells is quiet with a few bridges and now and then you get glimpses of the river running below it, its a pleasant road with a mostly flat gradient.


Route 8 to Builth Wells

We arrived in Builth just before 12 and decided to get some lunch although we ended up getting the all day breakfast.  It was a nice cafe at the beginning of the high street in town, it was a good opportunity to check the map and they kindly let us charge our phones.

Breakfast at Cafe Fontana

Breakfast at Cafe Fontana

As we left the Cafe it started to rain but before we left town I couldn’t resist getting my photo taken on the Bull; it was a tough job to get on the thing, its massive and in the wet I struggled to get any grip but one thing I’m sure about is that its lighter than my Surly Troll!

Bull in Builth

Riding the Bull in Builth

Heading out of Builth we took Route 43 which goes all the way to Llantwrtyd Wells, its reasonably well marked except for a missing sign at Llangammarch which meant we ended up travelling quite a few miles out of our way to Beulah.  From there we followed the A road and it didn’t take long to reach Llantwrtyd Wells with a brief stop along the way to have my photo taken with yet another roadside animal.

Llanwrtyd Wells Bear

In the town we stocked up on supplies at the Spar and we then visited the tea rooms in town where we sat outside and had a coffee and a scone.  Curtis dissapeared in the Spar for quite sometime and he emerged with less than I expected; although he made some good choices.  Together we set off again but this time with slightly heavier panniers carrying a couple of beers, cheese, cooked sausage and an extra 2 litres of water.

The road out of the town had some small climbs but nothing too major and eventually the view opened out over a beautiful valley with the road cut into the hillside.


The road not far from Llanwrtyd Wells

Road to the Devils Staircase

Road to the Devils Staircase

The road took us along the valley and to the base of the hill we had heard all about; the Devils Staircase.  At the base of the hill was a sign warning that a 25% gradient lay ahead and behind that was a sign warning that there were switch backs for the next half a mile.

20130627_170841 (Large)


At the bottom of the hill there is a slight bend and some trees obscuring the climb to come.


Devils Staircase Animated small

The road up to Llyn Brianne has a 25% gradient, getting up there was a bit of a challenge with the bike fully loaded!

Once on the top there was a great view looking back on the valley we had just travelled through.


Ortlieb Map Case

The map in the Ortlieb map case of the ride we were undertaking

Llyn Brianne Devils Staircase

At the top of the Devils Staircase there was a great descent down to the reservoir.

Llyn Brianne Reservoir by Bike

Llyn Brianne Reservoir by Bike

Surly Troll and Dawes Galaxy

By this point we were soaked but the views and the road were epic.


Thats Curtis going down the road on the other side of the valley. The road followed the edge of the reservoir and the route took us by surprise with a few unexpected hills.


The Dam wall



The spillway alongside the dam wall is apparently popular with Kayaks, it was dry on the day we were there and looked like it would be great fun on a skateboard.

The ride along the reservoir was amazing, there was a steady drizzle by the time we got to the top of the Devils Staircase but it added to the atmosphere of the place.  We followed the road into the village of Rhandirmwyn where we stayed at the Camping and Caravanning campsite.  They had good facilities and hot showers which was good as I was wet and cold but it was a great day of cycling.

If you want to read more on this ride check out Curtis’s blog, there are some great photos and a map of the route: http://bikewales.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/a-day-in-clouds.html

A new bike project

29 Jul

A couple of weeks ago I struck a deal with an old neighbour to swap bikes; she wanted a comfortable upright bike and I was keen on her 1986 touring bike.

In 1986 a few years after I was born she had a custom built Harry Quinn touring bike built for her.  It was handbuilt in St Florence, Pembrokeshire by Harry and his son and in 1989 she road the bike from Lands End to John O Groats in nine days of cycling; but since then the bike has had much use but carefully stored in her garage.

Whilst I’m constantly told I don’t need another bike I had to have this one. It was rich in history and beautifully made; and for a 27 year old bike it had all of its original parts!

The bike upon collection.

The bike upon collection.

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The books saddle is in better condition than the one on my Troll

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The bike has 18 gears with a 6 speed rear mech. The mech is in great condition but the chain is showing signs of wear.

Harry Quinn Chain Stay

Eleven Pedals with Christophe toe clips

The bike has Stronglight cranks and Christophe toe clips, just in need of a simple clean

Harry Quinn Stronglight Crankset

Old CTC sticker

On the rear mudguard is the original CTC sticker; I hadn’t seen this style before.

Dawes Handlebars on the Harry Quinn

Dawes Handlebars with the logo etched onto the bar. The bike had a computer at one time but it only came with the bracket.

Dawes Chrome Handle Bars

Whilst I wanted to saviour the restoration of the bike I couldn’t resist getting started.  I began with wiping the years of grime off the bike, with a toothbrush and some Muckoff it came away easily and after wiping down with a sponge parts were already shining.

The wheels were a lot tougher to clean up, the spokes were dull with a thick layer of grime, a scouring pad took most of this off but having to clean each spoke individually was tedious to say the least.

A friend called by to take a look, he soon disapeared but shortly returned with a tube of Autosol a German made metal polish.  We tested it out and the results were amazing; the brake levers polished up incredibly well within minutes.

Weinmann brake lever on the Harry Quinn

Weinmann brake lever on the Harry Quinn

Polished Weinmann brake lever

With the success of cleaning the levers I couldn’t resist testing the polish on other parts and there was almost instant success; to take things a step further I got the Dremel out of the garage and fitted a polishing tip, instantly the dulled metal finishes became almost mirror like.

Harry Quinn Cantilever brakes Harry Quinn made in Pembrokeshire
Christophe Toe Clips Maillard HubHarry Quinn Headtube Harry Quinn Headtube Harry Quinn Down tube shifters
Harry Quinn Harry Quinn Touring Bike Harry Quinn Brooks SaddleHarry Quinn Chainstay

Harry Quinn Bar Tape

I have changed the hoods on the brake levers and fitted new bar tape.

Mirrycle mirror on Harry Quinn

The mirror was made by Mirrycle in Boulder Colorado. It seems the hex key size is imperial as it took me a while to find one that fitted. They still make these mirrors today.

The mirror was made by Mirrycle in Boulder, Colorado.  It needed a clean and the bolts needed tightening but other than that its like new.  I have never used a mirror before and I really like it although I don’t think I will be fitting my other bikes with mirrors.  You can find instructions and replacement part numbers on the mirrycle website:  http://www.mirrycle.com/instructions/original%20instructions.pdf

Harry Quinn Bell

The bell was the final touch; I’ve had it a while but it hasn’t suited any of my other bikes. Its perfect for this one.

Harry Quinn Touring Bike

Refurbished Harry Quinn.  Just in need of some mudguards.

Route 41 Gospel Pass

26 Jun

Riding the Gospel Pass today, Route 42.




I found my socks

20 May

My brother got me some cycling socks for Christmas, I wore them a week or so later when we went mountain biking but after that they disappeared.  I forgot all about them until last week when I was due to go for a ride with him  but surprisingly they turned up today!

This photo was taken back in January during a cold day out riding.

This photo was taken back in January during a cold day out riding.

They turned up at my parents house, I must have left them there when I had been mountain biking in the area.  Well the plan for Sundays ride was to cycle to Caerphilly and over some mountains but I got a call at 9 am from my dad asking me if I would repair the lead on his roof.  Even though the sun was shining I couldn’t say no so Kate and I drove to Neath.

Whilst we were there we thought we could still get a ride in and decided a trip to the top of the mountain would be a good option, its not  far and the route to the top is easy and it has great views at 272 metres and seen as I had found my socks I thought why not where them one more time!

The description from Sockguy reads:
SockGuy Wanker Socks
Made with 75% Ultra-wicking Micro Denier Acrylic, 15% Nylon, and 10% Spandex for exceptional comfort and strength. These features create superior softness and comfort and help eliminate blisters and hot spots.

On top the mountain the views were great, there was a mild wind but nothing too strong.  I hadn’t been out on the mountain bike for a while and whilst this was just a simple forest track accent and descent it was fun to get out off road!


On the top of the mountain is a standing stone which is thought to be a boundary marker, it is mentioned in a Charter of King John in 1203.


Carreg Bica or also called Maen Bradwen. Perhaps a monument of a buried Celtic chieftain it now forms a gatepost.



Port Talbot is in the distance.

So it was a nice ride just over 6 miles with some excellent views.  I also fixed the roof and when I got home I put my feet up.


The Very Bike Trip

18 May

Whilst out on my bike Thursday night I met Matt from France who was on his way to Cardiff along the A48.  He was cycling up a hill towing a trailer, we got chatting and he told me about his trip as we cycled along.  He had arrived in Holyhead only a couple of days before and had cycled to Swansea before heading to Cardiff.  But this was only a small part of his journey which started in France and has taken him to Belgium, England, Scotland and Ireland before arriving in Wales.

You can read his blog here: http://www.verybiketrip.eu/


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