When perceptions of what is acceptable change. I bring you mud.

Yesterday I had to take girl-variant to a party. Normally this involves taking, hanging around for hours doing nowt, then bringing back. They're normally held in some awful town or industrial estate warehouse. But today it was a location on the North Downs. By heck, that's bike territory! So I took her to the venue on my beloved PACE RC303 mountain bike, dropped her off and went for a spin.....

Let's go back a day before we get too excited over my ride shall we?

Bought some new tyres this week. I've always run tyres that cost less than $50 a pair. That's near 20 years of off-road cheapness. Figured for once I'd splash out so dropped $120 on a pair of Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres, triple compound no doubt. 2.1 rear, 2.25 front. Oh man, too light when they arrived; 495g each. I've dropped almost 1.5lb bike weight straight off, and from the wheels too. But what utter bastards to fit. Tubeless so would they go on? No, tried everything. In the end inflated with inner tubes and left at 70psi for 24 hours. They then popped straight on with a satisfying click just with a foot pump.


So, how do they ride? Well removing that much mass from the wheels means fast. As in FAST. Whole new bike and I zipped around. Well this was only half way through after I'd Ben cursing the tyres as hideous waste of money. They refused to grip anything, feeling like tyres pumped way high roadie style. So I dropped the psi right down to something approaching 20 and they changed for the better. Still ungrippy in slimy mud or gravel, but that adds interest.

My ride? Well here in the UK we've had rain aplenty for four solid months. The trails were trashed and each ride a mud bath. But of late it has not been so bad. Out yesterday it felt like summer and I zipped everywhere at full speed. Half way stop at 12 miles out I was happy, even though I was worried I'd broken a finger after a tree incident. All swollen, went black and felt wrong. Anyway, sitting in the sun I was happy - well as happy as you can be whilst thinking you'd bust a digit.

And Dear Reader did you know that the little village of Headley, population perhaps 200, expects to receive 11,000 visitors on the 28th July thanks to the Olympic road race? Chaos. By all accounts none of the residents are looking forward to it. Well that's what they say. But if you run the pub or tea shop and normally sell a few beers or cakes, then one weekend of the year sell 20,000, well secretly I don't think they're looking at things that negatively. They're probably looking at holiday brochures to the Caymans or Branson's private island.

Got back home convinced it was a dry ride and kind of noticed my bike and myself. We were covered in mud. Literally covered. I'm guessing what has happened is that my internal calibration of what is, and what is not muddy has changed considerably. In previous years yesterday's ride would have been a right off, a crap mud fest. But having ridden in really dire conditions for so long, mere mud is but a triviality, something to be ignored. As I did. My bike and kit, though, took ages to clean up. 2 hours worth of hose down. This note it even though my bike sports five mudguards. One of which, by the way, being the Mucky Nutz. What a lovely piece of kit this is. Keeps my seals free of crap, which is all a cyclist wants in life.

Also during the week I'd noticed that my handlebars would not turn. A quick strip revealed a head tube full of rust, sand and muck. Took the bearing to my LBS for replacement, and got the do not stock them treatment. Too many variables to bother. This even though these bearings are from the only headsets they stock? So I smiled whilst at the same time thinking useless lazy bastards. Walked away, 1 minute on Google and I'd sourced a set. Cleaned up my old ones as best as I could and in a notchy way they worked fine.

So a terribly muddy ride, but I've recalibrated what is to be considered as a muddy one in dire conditions - yesterday was emphatically NOT muddy. Er........