Monday Morning Debrief 112: Strathpuffin’, Snow Ridin’ And Pandas?

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We’ll say our good morning greeting, but not too loudly. The office is quiet and still today. Headphones are plugged in, and the light tapping of keys and the occasional swivel of an office chair are the only sounds outside of the general hum of printers and servers. There’s apprehension and determination in the air. There are things that need to be done, and out of necessity, we’re ignoring all else to make sure we get those things done.

This is the quiet before the storm that comes once every two months, as everyone knuckles down on photo editing, word editing, and detail checking in the lead up to print deadline. We mustn’t linger, as we are so very close to getting Issue 117 to our local printer, where it can be turned into a beautiful magazine for you all to read and enjoy.

To help settle the mood and get everyone on the right foot for this very hectic week ahead of us, here’s a chilled deep house track from our favourite one-armed South African DJ and producer, Black Coffee. If you want to join us in the groove, get those headphones in, sit back and relax, and enjoy our retrospective look at the weekend that was!

jason miles snow strathpuffer
The Strathpuffer was held in some rather snowy conditions over the weekend up in Scotland.

Regarded as one of the most challenging 24-hour races in the UK, if not the world, (mostly because it’s held in January under 17 hours of darkness), the Strathpuffer was held over the weekend, and two of our contributors, Jason Miles and Darren Hall, drove 400 miles up north to the Scottish Highlands to, er, enjoy it;

Me and Daz ‘raced’ in the pairs at the Strathpuffer. Our bad backs, old guy fitness levels, tendency to be distracted by epic winter Highland scenery and the complete lack of a singlespeed pairs category meant that we finished in a stratospheric 30-somethingth place. But we had fun and it beats clearing out the shed (I did that last weekend, hence the injured back) or doing the ironing.

jason miles snow strathpuffer
Bike, or skis?
strathpuffer jason miles darren
It’s because it’s fun?

The course was a mix of wheel-grabbing snow, compacted fast snow, and sketchy ice. The sky was either blue or twinkly stars. The temperature never really went any higher than minus 7°C.

If anyone has ever wondered why a 24 hour race in the middle of winter, hours and hours from most of the country sells out within minutes of the entry opening, it’s because there’s always a chance that the ‘Puffer won’t be horrible rain and mud, it’ll be ace just like this one” – Jason.

winter snow widdop
Widdop looking pretty.

Hannah didn’t quite make it up the Scottish Highlands this weekend, so instead she braved the cold and snowy local conditions for a ride in the wild;

“Went out for a long ride. Wasn’t as long as it should have been since I pulled the abort cord part way up a final moorland push as the hill ahead disappeared, hail nailed my face, and I admitted I was probably too knackered for too much epic. Coming into work this morning and describing my ride to Chipps, he said ‘I wouldn’t go up there on my own in winter!’ so I feel vindicated in my decision to turn back” – Hannah.

sram ultegra road cranks 1x11 orange five bodge
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

In preparation for a weekend of riding, Chipps put his creative hat on to solve a crankset issue with his partner’s Orange Five;

I went to Wales for the weekend. Friday night was a hurried rush to get bikes together and due to a bottom bracket issue, I ended up having to fit Ultegra road cranks to Beate’s SRAM-equipped Orange Five. Not only did it not explode, but it worked fine and propelled us up above the snow line on the mountains above Llanberis.

snow winter chipps snowdon
Blue sky! No way! (It was two minutes before the sun went down though)
snow winter chipps
Postcard perfect!

Our original idea to bag Snowdon was abandoned due to low cloud, but we managed to get up high on the other side of the valley and were rewarded with snow and a view over Snowdonia and the whole of Anglesey.

Sunday was extra minging, so we decided that staying in and watching the cyclocross World Cup on TV was far more like it” – Chipps.

merida one sixty sunrace cassette stone wall
Merida One-Sixty against one of the many stone walls of Calderdale.
mud shoes wet winter
Obligatory waterproof sock testing. Pleasant.

As I’d been spending my entire week writing about clip-in pedals for an upcoming group test, I decided to brave the outdoors and spent my Saturday out on a long ride in the winter filth. I got out on a Merida One-Sixty test bike, which David has just finished with, and will be publishing the review online in the coming weeks. I really enjoyed riding it, but I’m not sure I fully appreciated having to test my waterproof socks.

panda bamboo wil

On Sunday, Mark headed out into the local woods to snap some photos. Along his way, he came across…a panda? He took this photo as proof of his sighting, but word on the street there’s some further clues in Issue #117 of Singletrack Magazine. Apparently it’s got something to do with a frame made out of bamboo…

Want to whet the appetite? Get a sneak peek of Issue #117 here!

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