Thoughts and musings two wheel based. Also wheel rebuilds and bottom brackets serviced.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Roughstuff Reconnaissance

I've got an itch to organise a decent old-fashioned Roughstuff Ride with the club. I've been slowly piecing together little sections I know of and poring over OS maps to find other bits. Today was a chance to find out how parts of it might join up, and what a glorious day it was.
I don't believe there's such a thing as lost when you've got a map with you, you are momentarily misplaced shall we say. I had the advantage of a decent visible landmark in the form of the Sugarloaf to aim for which was useful as I got a little misplaced by the NCN 42 signs.-
My bike for the day was my usual road bike, still on open tubs and running 39/53 chainrings. I did come to regret not changing to the compact.
From that point on there was some more dithering, sorry, ascertaining direction and after a rude fat lady in her Rover tried to force me off the pavement where I was mapchecking I as away again thinking I'd head off course a little to get a swift half only to find that the pub was shut. Gutted. Oh well, onwards.

The road became a section I knew from motorbike travels and so I was expecting a climb. Even though you know it's coming, it's still a bit of a wrench. This one is worth it though as it puts you at the start of a short off-road descent leading to a ford.
The beginning-
Those rocks are big enough to trouble a road bike so after avoiding going over the bars I walked a short section before hopping back on for the smooth run down to the ford-
and across the ford I went rather than trying to stop on the greasy concrete bed-
Lovely. From there it was just a 20 mile ride home.
Granted it's not going to be a proper roughstuff ride as there will be large sections of road joining it all together, but it will be the road less travelled.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hiut Denim open day

This time yesterday I'd just ridden through some fabulous countryside in the warming morning and arrived outside an innocuous Unit 2 on an industrial estate just outside the coastal town of Cardigan.
A good number of people milled about outside with the open space behind a roller door enticing and welcoming us. This is the manufacturing home of Hiut Denim. There are many explanations of the brand elsewhere so to me this is the company that makes the best jeans I have found, makes them 110 miles from my house, stands by their products and knows how to make the small be big.
"Come and get a tea or coffee" sounded out from inside the building, and in we went.
The day was a great relaxed affair, we queued for coffee and tea, patiently handed out by whomever was by the machine (thanks Steph) then David ran through what was going to happen. The first of the things was Norman talking about pattern making and how to be efficient at it followed by Claudio (more later) demonstrating the cutting of the denim.

Onto the Grandmasters; the ladies who with great charm had fielded the tens of staring faces and accompanying questions from our attendance. I'm sure there are many synonyms for describing what these ladies do, and how they do it but to be blunt they're bloody good at making jeans. That's Jean by the way, she made my jeans. She's lovely.  Elin (2nd right) provided us with a blow by blow narration of the process and kept us in order

Here is one of the machines which does one of the many processes that go into making the jeans. Amanda is just out of shot here working on sewing the yoke into the jeans. Two things occur on this machine as firstly the denim is folded and then sewn. Amanda has to get things lined up correctly, modulate the speed of the stitch and then snip the free off. All I could focus on was the thread oscillating as I was astounded by the skill involved.
Paul gave us a demonstration on how the jeans were repaired when we, the customers had holed them, torn them or just plain worn them and then it was lunch. Still reeling we descended on the delicious empanadas, falafels and custard tarts. None of which are Cardigan native I believe but frankly I've not tasted a nicer tart or empanada so couldn't care less.
There was limited clearance stock to be purchased if we so wished and I took fancy of a pair of raw organic jeans and decided they'd make nice shorts for summer so planned to cut them off once home. Word of this spread (thanks for dobbing me in, Emma) and Claudio volunteered to do them properly. After a quick measure they were marked up, checked and cut
then I had some shorts. Pictures of my pasty white legs will not be shown, no worry there.
Clare handed out maps and we wandered down to the Theatr Mwldan for some outstanding live music from a 14 year old lass (edit to add, her name is Hana Evans ) followed by David describing the plans ahead for the company. Ladies, your time is coming with stretch denim. Other plans were presented and the ambition of the company is both measured and also bounding.
It was a great pleasure to meet the people who made my jeans, other customers and in total a great quality company with real full vision of making small big. The lure of the pub for discussions was strong, but the lure of the evening road back was stronger.