Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Purple Haze... How i was drawn to the `FAT SIDE`...

Rewind to February 2006...
I had just got home in the dark with the car from a day at Glentress trail centre in the Scottish Borders.

It had been a cold and wet overcast day with an hour drive each way for a great 2 1/2 hours of riding a full suspension Santa Cruz Heckler MTB around one of the best trail centres here in the UK.
Then the ride was followed by freezing in a queue for 15 minutes for the ONE bike wash at £1 a minute and a queue behind so you just take the one wash which is not really enough time to clean your bike properly, Then changing into dry clothes at the side of the car in the car park while still freezing as the changing rooms were full with queues.
Then after some ace food at the cafe standing up as no seats spare and a mooch around The Hub shop it was another hours drive home as the daylight dissapeared.
Home finaly and now its dark and then unpack the car, and re wash the bike to get the missed bits, clean-dry-and lube chain etc, and once the bike is done and hung up i am still stinking under clean clothes which now also need washed too!,.
Filling the washing machine with manky clothes it moans into life, churning away...

It is not the first day at Glentress (GT) that i ponder over how my whole Saturday of daylight time is gone for only 2 1/2 to 3 hours riding time despite a great days riding like a loon on a lovely Santa Cruz 5" travel `does everything` bike its all the travelling and queues etc that does my head in, and i just get a few hours riding on a precious Saturday off work.

I wish i could just ride from the house and have an ace time and a micro adventure on my own doorstep for a few hours then be home for rest of the day to do other stuff around the house and garden etc in the precious daylight, or just and put the feet up in front of the fire and relax and read etc...

Sure there are loads of natural trails around here in East Lothian but by mid summer they are often overgrown being unmaintained and if wet weather its soaking with the overhanging vegetation,
In winter some are just slop,
There are great trails along our east coast but they are sandy in places and thus very soft and unrideable in places so not much fun on a regular mountainbike,


Meanwhile on route to finally  flop into a steaming hot bath with a large cider i picked up UK Singletrack Magazine that had flopped through the letter box earlier,
Thumbing through all the usual stuff of crazy priced bike parts and `Lifestyle` articles which i felt bore no relation to myself or what i want to do on a bicycle i thumbed onto page 50 and this months `Bike Porn` feature was the Surly Pugsley, first time i had heard of or seen one...
My jaw dropped...
Wow! i thought,  that's amazing!...


It all made sense as i read and re read  the article until the bath water was cold...


A steel frame set, no suspension to service, massive tyres that will cross real soft terrain,
And it had rack mounts, and the reversible wheels were a cool idea, and it looked great in Purple...
I was already thinking of all the places i could ride this along our coast line where i had tried to cycle the old yellow super V Cannondale i used to ride on the wet sand of the beaches at the time, which i would have to push most of the way on through the soft dry dunes and sandy single track,

This is what iv`e been waiting for...




I had never been so excited about a bike since my first MTB in 1987, this Pugsley ignited a similar spark....

They were going to test it to its limits in the magazine and see where it can really go, "this is great!" i thought, cant wait to read about it and eagerly looked forward to each months publication through the letter box.
Then nothing... it just disappeared, no tests, no amazing pictures of previously unrideable areas ridden by the 2 wheeled big foot purple bicycle freak machine,

Why not?...

Then 5 months later in July STW magazine an article appeared by Jakub Postrygacz from Poland who cycled the remote Australian 2000km Canning Stock Route...on his own...unsupported on a Surly Pugsley prototype...
You can read about his journey here; Canning Stock Route

Then it disappeared again from publication.
So i bought a computer. I had about 25 minutes experience of them, As soon as it was all plugged in and i was on line i Googled `Surly Pugsley` and up popped the Surly website and there was the bike and the list of specific parts needed,
All quite complicated at first but in time i kinda worked out what was needed.
Next i went onto youtube and a search popped up this film, one of 3 by the maker...


I watched and re watched the bike riding over the loose pebbles on the beach and then how it seemed to zoom along the soft sand... hee hee! -:),
I couldn't believe how it seemed to float over the with out the front digging in and then the traction and grip riding on and off the beach across loose pebbles. It looked amazing!,

The worm had turned for me...

However i had just sold and bought a new replacement Devinci freeride bike for riding downhill at Innerleithen, along the road from Glentress trail centre, where i rode that lovely Santa cruz...






But from that day on my heart just was not in doing that anymore.
I wanted one of these bikes that i could go and explore new places previously unrideable before from home on my doorstep, a bit like when i got my first MTB in 1987, i wanted adventure on my doorstep
...
It took over a year until i finally let go of the downhill bike after weekend riding friends asking "why do you want a pugsley?" and "it will weigh a ton" and "the novelty will soon wear off" and "it will be boring" ...blah blah blah...
Eventually i sold the downhill bike and later the Santa Cruz after finally finding someone who understood what 17mmm offset wheels were about,
Jake Law who then worked at the shop `The Hub` at Glentress and is friends with Carl Hutchings who owns a wildcat and is a previous Iditabike racer and fatbike owner.
And so The Hub shop then sourced all the essential parts needed after a 6 week wait from UK Surly importer ISON, and Jake would build the wheels and then the bike...
To date there was 6 Purple Pugsley`s in the UK, 3 or 4 `Thunderbird Grey` framesets came in. One was mine, and the first north of the border...

Scotland's first Fatbike -:) ...


The rest is not history but all on here to read and watch...





But the frame was not Purple, it was the new Thunderbird Grey that had just replaced it,
I felt i missed out not getting the purple of that bike in the magazine which pages i had nearly rubbed out looking at...

Then in June 2011 something i never expected happened,
My friend Martin popped round for a brew,
"theres a Pugsley frame set on ebay" he said,
I clicked on and found it expecting a grey frame set which i had seen before that did not sell with a very high reserve,
But i could not believe it, there was a brand new unused Purple frame set in Ireland, bought and never built...
I put a massive bid in...
And it was on my doorstep 4 days later lovingly wrapped and packed by its owner Simon...















I didn't rush the frame swap over and proofed the frame inside properly with 4 coats of frame saver...


All the service parts were replaced after i repainted my grey frame black before the holidays so it was an easy rebuild leaving all cables and brakes in place on the bars...
The now traditional `hang from sign` new bike or build pic...


Friend Mike has had first dibs on my pugsley frame for ages as i had planned to replace it next year with a new one, but i prefer the original mk1 and 2 purple and grey frames with higher top tube as you can shoulder the bike easier and there is more room for a frame bag, so i have sold him the frame set and some old Endomorph tyres and a few spares to help him get rolling soon, looking forward to seeing his repainted (again) pug and himself along our coast,
He took these pics of my retro upgrade purple pug with his SLR camera, the colour is lovely in the sunlight...






Being one of the original members of the USA MTBR Fatbike Forum there has been a lot of interest in this unused Mk1 frame turning up,
I had a few emails from on line forum friends in America after posting a pic of the frame set saying how amazing it was to find an unused original purple pug and 2 emails offering to buy it paying full postage before i cut the steerer tube and built it up, that's the passion that some folk have for these bikes...
I`m real lucky to have found this and it wont be getting the abuse of the old frame, It will still see the beach and sea but wont get thrown over stuff etc,
A second fat bike is coming at the end of the year which is going to be tested to destruction and try to do really daft stuff on... -:)
I'm made up getting an original purple pug,

The circle was now complete...


Simce the Purple Pugsley frame set turned up there has also been the Surly Moonlander, a barrel of laughs. And now the 29+ KramPug concept which is now on that original Grey frame set which is now Black and Orange...

What`s next?  let`s wait and see eh?

coastkid

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Roadtrip 2011; Pennan



This Roadtrip was mostly about the North West and North coast of Scotland but i had to visit a classic East Coast fishing village...
On the North East coast is a small village called Pennan that in the early 1980s became very famous by a film by director Bill Forsyth for its scenes filmed here,
`Local hero` has become a bit of a icon in Scottish films, a black comedy about an American business man sent to a remote Scottish fishing village to buy the beach and foreshore to develop an Oil Refinery and offshore loading depot, Mac who is sent though falls in love with the Scottish scenery, the light and the people,
While the beach scenes were shot at Morar looking across to the Cullin Hills of Skye on the west coast the village scenes were here at Pennan...
















Director Bill Forsyth is a genius and along with `Gregory's Girl` and `Comfort and Joy` has helped put Scotland on the Movie map for its amazing light and scenery...










And star of the show is not an actor but the Scottish scenery and sky and a red phone box where after a whip round in the local pub Mac phones home to his employer with updates that change from business to the evening sky,
His boss, an astronomer and for who Mac is his `eyes and ears` hear`s Mac describing the sky and stars and the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) comes to see the sky for himself, but he wont get to buy the beach, even for the price of a hand full of sand...


Unfortunately the Village phone box was not used but another was placed nearer the Harbour to get the evening light behind, still its a great place to visit, hemmed in by cliffs and accessed by a narrow steep road it has changed little today from filming here in the 1980s...




















Here is a great wee film about Pennan and Local Hero, 25 years later...



And another made by Bill Forsyth after being awarded a lifetime achievement award,
His wit is legend...he also gives some film making tips on panning shots...
Despite the film crews thoughts at the end i think he could give Neil Oliver a run for his money...

Roadtrip 2011; Reiss Beachride



5am and feeling a bit sleepy being up all night but im parked in front of a 2 mile beach just North of the N.E Coastal Town of Wick, hard to resist going for a ride...


It is here that the WW2 `Coastal Crust` Defences start and can be followed all the way down to Northumberland in England and beyond,
Hundreds of thousands of tons of Concrete Anti Invasion blocks and small pyramids (called dragons teeth) in lines were built to slow the expected invading Tanks and landing vehicles...








There was a sea mist drifing in and out and glowed red in the sunrise, very scenic...






Out of the mist appeared raised rail tracks running into the Sea, a strange barge thing sat on the rails, it was an Oil pipeline being constructed, i would pass over the pipeline later driving south...






Steep dunes loomed out of the mist that rolled in...






Offshore is a large boiler from a wrecked ship, be good to see more of the ship at a low tide...


I often come across things folk make out of stuff washed up on the beach- beach art, and this is one of the coolist things i have seen made, a glove tree!...






End of the beach at Ackergill Tower...




Next years holiday will be exploring a lot more of the East Coast, including a lot more beaches and WW2 stuff like the old WW2 Coastal Command RAF station south of here at Tain...








And i will definitly be visiting here!...




Time to head south for home but one last place to visit on the way which has a very famous red phone box...