Category Archives: News


It was a bit wet in the west of Scotland in October. This path down near Stratchclyde Park used to be pretty good for inline skating training….

Washed away
Washed away

Marin Bikes 2009

2009 looks like being a fantastic year for mountain bikes, with some very interesting designs or tweaks coming out from a whole load of the big names. These days it’s very hard to make a bad bike and even the most basic bikes are so much more advanced than those of a few years ago. Marin used to be seen in the UK as the Ford Mondeo of mountain bikes, with reliability and efficiency the name of the game rather than out and out performance or glamour. In the past couple of years though they’ve produced some really well received downhill and freeride rigs and the Mount Vision has been picking up awards left, right and centre for its stunning handling and suspension action.

Unfortunately for us as adventure racers, the MV was putting on the pounds with the increase in suspension travel and the tube angles were all getting a bit too relaxed for racing purposed. Thankfully though Marin have pulled a new design out of the bag and it fits our bill perfectly. The new Alchemist bike features 100mm of travel and a more race ready specification and geometry which looks ideal for adventure racing. There are no bikes in the UK yet so we have to wait and see how it performs.

2009 Marin Alchemist with XTR and Rock Shox SID bling setup
2009 Marin Alchemist with XTR and Rock Shox SID bling setup

Sneaking into their range with no press is this rather sexy looking carbon framed CXR Team, which takes obvious design and manufacturing cues from sister brand Whyte but at a much reduced price. This complete bike setup with SID forks and SLX groupset retails for £1850 which looks pretty tidy to me.

2009 Marin CXR Team. Carbon frame inspired by sister brand Whyte Bikes
2009 Marin CXR Team. Carbon frame inspired by sister brand Whyte Bikes


Tick tock, tick tock – every time I look at the clock it seems to shout loud that time is running out before the Original Mountain Marathon and I’ve not done enough training!

With a break in the weather and the stars in the right arrangement I managed to get out at the weekend onto the hills of Glen Luss. This pretty wee glen sits between the South of Loch Lomond and the top of Gare Loch so within an easy stone’s throw of Glasgow, however, it boasts no Munros so is generally passed by for the bigger hills just a bit further north. I took the dogs out for a long training run with the mission to spend a good length of time on my feet and to hammer my quads into shape with some solid downhills.  Getting off the beaten track and getting my head into the map I ran a route around the South side of the glen, an area I’d never visited before. With clear skies the views from here were fantastic from a vantage point that takes in Glasgow, The Firth of Clyde, Arran, Faslane and a mysterious massive near chimney near Gourock. (I was told later that submariners at Faslane use it as a navigation marker and in all guide books it’s simply called FBC or Fucking Big Chimney!).

The dogs were having a great time running around in the breeze and I’m sure they appreciate the views themselves. Poor Islay gets a bit confused about distance, size and perspective. Think Father Ted explaining small cows and far away cows to Father Dougal and you can appreciate the advice I had to try and convey to the pups about deer running on the other side of the valley and rabbits closer at hand. She didn’t seem to get it as she tried several times to chase some deer over 2km away – the confused look on her face was priceless!

I had been very tempted to skip the hills and hit the pub to watch the Scotland v Norway match, but thank god I didn’t, it sounded like a total waste of time and I was happy to have discovered a little gem of a glen and given the legs a good workout. I didn’t cover the distance I’d hoped in the 4.5 hours I was out, but the dogs were getting knackered and I was happy to have got some good, fun miles in and tried out some of the kit I’ve got lined up for the OMM. So far, so good…

The OMM Kit List Pondering

Every week we seem to keep saying that autumn has finally set in and summer, (or whatever that thing between spring and now is really called), has left us, but for two weeks running now we’ve had glorious sunny Sundays with the London Rat Race taking place in glorious weather and then Sunday just passed being one  of those blue sky days to remember where we were in the Lake District. Of course, the day beforehand we were sure the apoclypse was on the way and the racers taking part in the Dirty Weekend Adventure in Grizedale, Cumbria were wondering whether arks or kayaks were being supplied during the race.

I’d been feeling rough all week so decided to skip the race and spend a nice weekend with Mrs L in the same area. After a non-event for us on Saturday other than some Adventure Driving on the Lake Districts flooded, narrow roads, we had a glorious little ride up to Skiddaw House above Keswick and around Lonscale Crags. Just wish I’d brought a bloody camera!

Just looking forward to the OMM now and thinking about kit.

Here’s the kit list with my current ideas:

Rucsac – OMM Adventure Light 20

Tent – Polaris Eventlite or Vango Ultralite 200

Sleeping Bag – Macpac Epic 300 or OMM 0.5SSL

Sleeping Mat – Balloon Bed

Full length tights – Skins or iRule Whistlers if weather really cold

Baselayer top – Helly Hansen Lifa Versa

Underwear – Smartwool boxers

Fleece top/warm layer – Patagonia R1 pullover ( or howies NBL Baselayer

Waterproof Trousers – OMM Kamleika (250g)

Waterproof Jacket – OMM Kamleika Jacket (400g) or Smock (300g) – need to decide

Windproof – Depending on conditions I’d probably like a Pertex Quantum Gilet but who makes them? Montane do a Pertex Microlight one…

Hat – Smartwool Training Beanie(40g) – If weather really shit then perhaps need Paramo Balaclava or Lowe Alpine Mountain Hat

Gloves – Smartool Liner Gloves

Socks – Smartwool Running Light Mini Crew (44g) or Bridgedale X-Hale (30g)

Shoes – Inov8 MudClaw 330

Headtorch – Hmm tricky one do I need enough light to navigate in the dark or just enough light to see around the camp? We have a late start so will have to think carefully about this.  Choices are a Petzl Tikka XP (95g) or getting something like a Petzl eLite (27g)

Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket (86g) and some tin foil for wind break

Pans – 2 x foil takeaway dishes (12g) and some tin foil for lid

Other kit – 3 x sealable food bags. Spork. Ear plugs. Casio Altimeter Watch. OMM 500ml water bottle. Plastic camping mug and small karabiner. Tiny amount of first aid supplies

Wan Dae

It’s looking like a reasonably busy month of racing ahead which will make a nice change as I’ve not really been in proper action since The Turas back in June.  On 20th September I’m putting on my own Wan Dae race in the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh, a favourite location and so close to our capital.  More details can be found on the race website here.

After that I’m done with race organising for a while and it’s time to get back into action myself. First up – the London Rat Race on 27th September, then the Dirty Weekend on 4th/5th October, then at the end of October the OMM which I’ll be racing with my good mate from Denmark, Thure. Somewhere in between I had plans to do an attempt on the West Highland Way by bike, end to end and back in 24 hours. Daylight is slipping away as time marches on but with some good Exposure lights I don’t anticipate it being a problem but fitness might! As winter rears it’s head then ideas of another attempt at Tranter’s Round have been surfacing, with sometime in November pencilled in before PC heads back to New Zealand…not sure where I’m going to get the training in for it…

The little things in life

I’m celebrating FINALLY having figured out by trial and error how to upload images into posts without getting error messages or linking to another URL. So to celebrate, here’s one of my favourite photos from last year’s AR World Champs. Here I am half way up Buichaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe on day 6 or 7. Photo taken by Rob Howard.

Johnboy on Curved Ridge, The Buckle, Glen Coe, Rannoch Moor in the background.
On Curved Ridge, The Buckle, Glen Coe. Rannoch Moor in the background.

Let it rain

It’s raining outside, it might finally give me a chance to test the Marmot Essence jacket I have here. So far it’s done ok at keeping the midgies off at our last weekend away in Tarbert in Kintyre. Review to come…


Wow it worked. Ok got to stop being lazy and finally get on top of this blog. These new additions to the family have been taking up any spare time I had…