It's been long and stiff, short and stubby but now I have a midi.

Well now, two solo rides in this weekend. One a night ride Friday, the other Sunday afternoon. Two rides in one weekend? Unheard of.

Friday night is normally pretty busy here. The kids do multi-activities so we have to ferry them around and make dinner at odd times. But this Friday one child had nowt to do so I palmed her off and went for a spin up into the hills. Naturally it was dark so I had to fit various lights to myself and the bike. I've been using the C and B Seen 1200 lumen on the handlebars of late, with a good old Maplin CREE torch on my helmet. Tonight I used my trusty Nuke Proof Reactor on my helmet and the whole set up was pants. Oddly it was old tech that showed up the new for being the fraud that it is. It's a bit like reading somebodies Linkedin profile then actually meeting them. The profile reads impressively but you can 100% guarantee that such people don't quite meet up to their own online standards. The Nuke Proof showed up the C and B Seen as being nothing more than a powerful torch. The optics on that light are all wrong as all you get is a very bright central spotty region with very little around the edges. In effect I was riding with two tight focus spot lights. Got away with it being solo, but when riding with such a set-up all you end up doing is focusing both spot lights onto the same bit of trail, which is a waste. What I was doing was to focus on a spot a few metres in front of the bike, where the C and B Seen unit happened to be pointing instead of where I should have been looking, which was down the trail. So when I got home I bodged together a helmet mount for the C and B, and switched the Reactor to a wide angle lens for the bars. Hopefully this will work as I don't really want to invest too much cash in lighting - don't do it often enough for that. Odd night out here when I can fit it in, plus emergency use in foreign valleys or roads at dusk when I sometimes get caught out. The C and B unit is good value at £40 but the optics let it down terribly for off-road use. The rubber band method of mounting is also horrid. I've only used it in the dry but I bet those rubber bands fail miserably in the wet. As a lot of lights below £120 are essentially the same units with the same problems, £40 is not only stunning value but also means that I'd have to spend £150 to better both the unit and the mounting system. Not going to happen is it?

The ride itself was fun. Cold enough for frost to be forming yet dry enough to work up a sweat in just a t-shirt and lightweight pertex jacket. Naturally being a night ride I couldn't see where the mud was so got absolutely splattered. I never get that muddy during the day. Bike lights neutralise everything to a kind of colour / texture uniformity so you can't tell wet areas from dry, or even whether you are going uphill, along the flats or downhill. My bike took ages to clean afterwards but the ride was easily worth it. I don't know why but it was just a really good spin out and I could have carried on all night. It was one of those rides where I turned around to come home with a real sigh. Not because home life is crap, far from it, but because it was such a nice, pleasant time to be riding.

Sunday morning I had to take the kids for a martial arts test, so an early morning ride was out of the cards. Normally an afternoon spin is also out of the question as the kids want entertaining. However a full week of school, four evenings doing martial arts and a couple of miles swimming had taken it out of them [fit as a butchers' dog my kids] so Sunday afternoon all they wanted to do was watch Harry Potter. Fine by me for once! Luckily bike was up for another spin out so game on.

Now I've had the PACE RC303 for a few years and have gotten it just about where I want a bike. It's reasonably light, has 140mm forks can do most stuff, and as it is tubeless I never have tyre issues. But the stem length has been a faff. The bike is a small you see, so technically the wrong size for my average UK height. Started off with a long stem; that was wrong. Short stem; great for going downhill but also wrong. So this week I fitted a 65mm one from an Orange Five and it is lovely. Feels absolutely spot on. No more wandering uphill or uber quick steering pointing down things. Just loveliness. Just hope now that my other bike works as well with the 50mm stem..... Waste not, want not.

I've also gone back to my dry Squirt wax lube overlaid with C3 ceramic wet. Faff in that it all has to be applied several days before a ride but so far it works. My recent failing with this mix was to use a wax lube from Halfords - just not up to the job, as wasn't the wet lube from Mucoff. Worst lube ever that stuff; avoid. Squirt plus C3 it is for me then.

Anyway, the ride. Ooo, isn't it cold? As I set off a light snow was falling which put me instantly into a good mood. Snow is great when you don't have to go anywhere. But it didn't last long, unlike the cold. But again a t-shirt plus pertex outer was enough once going, even though I was wearing shorts. Up the hill I kept into the middle ring so worked up a nice sweat which kept me warm cycling around the golf course. Again it was very muddy, a wet slop which sprayed everywhere even though I have four mudguards on the PACE. Now this makes me sound like the Halfords accessories kid but the PACE has such fat tubes, and three of the 'guards are rather small so you'd be hard pushed to spot at least two of them. OK perhaps I do look like the Halfords accessories kid ;¬(

At least the wetness of the mud made for an easy clean post ride. As I was cleaning my bike though I realised that on my patio there was a good cm of sand and mulch build up in once low corner. Investigating it a bit suggested over 20kg of sand - we have a sand pit, so I'm used to judging sand quantities. I cleaned this area recently so all of this sand has come from the past month's riding. Oh dear, mountain bikes and trail erosion.

Didn't see too many mountain bikers out today, and none on Friday night. Normally expect to see a few, even at night, so where they all are I have no idea. Perhaps they're all turning towards being roadies? I've no problems with what people ride but this lack of support is a bit of a worry for the sport.