Surrey night rides; Orange 5 v On-One Fatty; Blackburn bottle cage rack review.


Where has Muddy been? No posts for ages. Sorry. Life went a bit odd for a time.


My daughter, 13, wanted a dog, so we got a dog. Bit of a surprise for her, and us really. Surrey Police contacted us about fostering a 7 month old Labrador over Easter. Which we did, and he has gone back now. Our daughter was over the moon with him, yet, well, the rest of us came away slightly bemused as to why anybody would want to own a dog. Fun at times, right pain the rest. Up at 06:30 to walk him. Then out again at 08:30, 11:00 for an hour, 14:00. Long walk at 19:00, last one 10:30. Interact with other dog owners. Some are nice, some are just knobs. "He doesn't normally bite; must be something about you" was oddly common from a surprising number of other owners.

Sorry, but unless the dog is a working animal, I really do not get it at all. We did lots of dog related stuff as well, so it's not like we didn't try. Went to the beach twice, Box Hill once, Reigate Hill lots. Over three weeks' perhaps 90 dog related walks.

The beach (Cromer and Sheerness) was fun. Whilst on the beach. Try and do other seaside stuff and you are stuffed. Pretty much 100% of restaurants and cafes do not take dogs, fair one really. Most shops as well. So the beach was OK for a bit. Other walks? To me they just seemed an excuse to collect poo in little bags; talk exclusively to other dog owners (sorry, but I really do not care for that); or just, well, walk. I walk a lot; often ten or so miles a day. Yet somehow walking with a dog was a far more aimless event than I ever imagined.

Then there's the fact that all of a sudden the car just becomes a dog transportation device, and your house is largely trashed. Forget having a garden.

Daughter was sad when he went back, and is now on about when we get to foster another. Lots of other doggy people looked at me oddly when I said I was more than happy he's gone. I can only guess that they like picking up warm poo.

Poo. For years I've seen, like all of you, those little Poo Fairy bags that hang in the trees. Always assumed they were from owners who were being lazy tossers. Now I've some experience of poo bags, I can state that they weren't being lazy tossers. They were just being utter tossers. I know that I've picked up loads of those bags now. It's an unpleasant task, and carrying the bags is vaguely noxious. Yet if you've actually bothered to pick it up, 95% of the nastiness has been done. Tying the bag to a branch afterwards? There's no excuse for that. That's being 100% objectionable to your fellow man. It's saying "screw you! I don't give a toss about anybody else."

I didn't dislike the dog at all. He was great, really he was. Soft as anything, and generally fun to be with. He fitted in really well and wasn't any bother. Just, for me, a dog is a working animal and if you are not working it, then it's pointless. We did our bit for the Police, and I'm content that we were part of the dogs' training. He left us happy and contented, yet clearly ready to actually work. Good on him.

On-One fatty v. Orange 5.

Funnily enough the merits of a fat bike versus a full suspension bike come up a lot on the web. I own both, so why not also comment?

I ride the fat bike a lot, invariably these days commuting the ten miles to Oxted, all off-road. My other bikes have been neglected somewhat. I did take the Orange 5 to Scotland recently, where I found it, frankly, a chore to ride. Put it down to new terrain and too much beer.

On a recent night ride, I took an old Gary Fisher Tassajara out. 26" wheels, it is a good ten years old. It was still fast around the Surrey Hills. Lovely bike to ride. Two nights later had an opportunity for another night ride; take the 5, have a blast!

Colley Hill looking towards Dorking at sun set.

Nope, not having any of that. Where the Tassajara was lively and sprightly going up-hill and along singletrack, the 5, a 2013 26" version that I bought new, was a chore. It was just hard work. I've got the weight of that bike down to 29lb, so mass was not an issue. It just rode heavy and sluggish, with no pep. In the end my back started to ache. I'm going to have to have a good look at that bike, as that's not right - I'm wondering if the brakes start to bind when I'm riding? [Just looked. All fine. Cock - that means the bike is just nasty.]

Yes, April 26th and ice on the trails.

Anyway, the next morning. Planning on taking the fat bike the ten miles to work. Except my shoulders ache after riding the 5. Take the car!

I didn't; I rode in. The bike was lovely. Really smooth, and rode better than its' 44lb (yes - 44lb) mass suggested. It was just a nice bike to ride. Bear in mind the fat bike is a stupid bike in every respect. Front tyre, 5". Need that around here..... Jones loop bars on a 50mm stem, meaning an effective negative stem length - my hands are now near my knees. Fat tyre plus Jones bar on a short stem = double stupid. Carrying all my kit on the bike, zip tied here and there, meaning a 44lb weight? Triple stupid.

For some reason, however I try and mess the poor bike up, it always shines ride wise. Where it should be hateful, it just works. Although please refrain from asking me the next time I'm faced with hike a bike sections.

Guess perhaps poor owner maintenance may be the fault with the 5, yet it just felt a poor sibling to the fatty. It had no life to it.

Blackburn bottle cage rack.

Simple one word review really: Pointless.

The idea of it being that instead of a bottle cage, you have a little rack that can take 5kg or a bottle. I was sold. Hate rucksacks. Hate bladders. Fixed it to the fatty all fine. Went to put a bottle in. First hurdle being the straps. The bottle is held by nylon webbing straps that you tighten up. Great.... except when actually riding. Normally with a bottle you reach down, pull it out, have a drink, put it back. Not now. Now you have to stop, undo the straps, drink, put bottle back, re-do the straps.

Which by the way are very long. And can't be cut down because are needed if stuff is to be carried.

Doesn't work with a bottle then. Great, so what is it good for? A soft bag. Ok will try that. Except 5l soft bags are too big. Ordered a 2l bag off the web. Arrived, tried it. Long drawn out sigh. Sure the bag fits, and carries stuff, like spare clothing. But what happens when you want to ride wearing said clothing? I'm now left with finding a home for a 2l bag, have a carrier with dangling straps, and am carrying a now redundant metal frame.

It's just all wrong. I actually hate it.


I've not really done anything majorly interesting. Had a cheeky night ride with AD recently. Cheeky? Well it's been dry here for a month. All those trails and footpaths that are normally Unrideable due to being wet [here I'm thinking the one that runs along the bottom of the North Downs] have been dry and chalky. One section under Colley Hill, in 18 years of living here, I've never known fully dry, and thanks to being at the bottom of a cliff, is always muddy - thick, chalk mud. Last week, dry as and the first time either of us have ever cleared it.

Been awfully cold as well. At 9pm end April frost and icy trails are more or less unknown. I had both last Wednesday. Naturally here at home when I set off it was 10 degrees C. Shorts and a thin top were in order. Up on the top, in the trees, ice was forming in the hollows. I got cold. Not bothered by that too much. Recent report states that nowadays we're mollycoddled lightweights who avoid temperature fluctuations, so are getting sick as a result. Being cold and then, it turns out, does us a world of good.