I only wanted to change the brake pads.

Text from AD.

It was 10pm on Friday. Text arrived from my old riding bud, AD. I've not ridden with him for ages, a good three years, mainly because I'm an arse with a blog. You see I'd not been too nice in one, and I think he'd got the hump with me, which was fair. Also, about the same time, he had this desire to be a roadie, and had joined a club so was moving on anyway. I must say if my being an arse spurred him on, then I'd do it again as he's never looked back and seems to have joined an excellent crowd.

Anyway, out of the blue came a "do you fancy a ride tomorrow morning?" Does a cat love a mouse? So I said yes. Next text was even more specific; don't be a prick and bring the fat bike; I want a ride not a wait around whilst you hump that stupid thing around. Fair dinkums, I'll dig a proper bike out.

I suspected he'd go full suspension on me, hence why the Orange 5 was my choice. Not ridden this for probably a year. It was sulking. Flat rear tyre, duff brakes. 60ml of Stans fluid did the tyre, duff brakes had to wait.

The ride.

No plan, just ride. Naturally he turned up on an hardtail. Sorry? Look at it! £4k of XTR equipped carbon this, carbon that, full on Chris King. 22lb? Stunning bike. Bear in mind he is now a roadie and regularly does 130 mile spins, 5,000 miles a year, whilst I am a bimbler and lug a 40lb fat bike on 20 mile café visits once a month. There was bound to be a contrast in styles.

It indeed prove to be the case. At every opportunity he sped off with instant acceleration. No excuse on my part; outclassed massively. My thighs hurt, my arms burnt. It wasn't so much the pace as the fact I've been using Jones handlebars and plodding a heavy mass around. Just not used to actually, you know, riding. At least he was a gent and pretended that I wasn't holding him up, which I was. Even on the descents though. That was bad. My feeble excuse? I don't have one; he's just way better than me now, entirely different class. Outstanding even. Going to have to up my game.

The bike.

It was fine. Felt funny after the fatty, especially flat handlebars. They were weird. After a few miles all was fine, although narrow tyres aren't my thing now. I do realise that 5" tyres are silly though. 2.4" probably best.

Luckily the tyres stopped up, and the brakes kind of worked. Not as strong as I'd like so at home figured I'd change the pads. If I mention the word "Avid" you may well understand the two hour faff that followed. I'll put new pads in the front, and replace the rears with the used front ones. Took them out, went to push the pistons back in....

....two hours later I'd not got the pads in as the pistons retracted precisely 0.5mm too little for the rotor to fit. Arse. Swopped the front brake out completely for an old Magura unit, which was fine but very weak. Figured I'd just buy some Shimano ones instead during the week. Then I remembered I've been unemployed for 7 months and have no money. Arse.

Back to the now dumped Avid. Poverty being a strong motivator I figured that if I let some fluid out, they may well work. That's not something you hear people do lightly, not with Avid Elixirs. Naturally it only worked first time, which was good in one way, bad in another. My bike now had a Magura brake fully fitted....


It was fun not lugging 40lb around. Slightly quicker on the ups, not at all on the flat, and no way on the down bits. My average pace was 8.8mph - oddly similar to my normal pace on the fatty. Go figure. I realise, however, that my pace these days is too slow. I'm a bumbler all of a sudden. How did that happen?

Either way going out with AD was an eye opener. I suspect I'm in a rut with cycling, possibly too attached to the fatty and the notion of seeking out normally unrideable routes. Why not just take a normal bike out, i.e. one I already own, now and then, and just go for a ride instead of proving a point to myself all the time? It may well just be fun.

Cheers AD. Enjoyed today. About time somebody pointed out I'm an arse.