1000 miles of Reiver-ing

Seems like an appropriate milestone for an update.

Still loving this bike so much that I really haven’t ridden any others. I re-built my Scandal singlespeed, partly as an exercise in encouraging dexterity and strength but mainly because Brant borrowed the Reiver while I couldn’t ride it. I’ve probably ridden 10 miles on it since. Last night I put the wheels on the Uncle John and rode round the block. It’s good, of course, but I took the wheels back off and put them on the Reiver.

When Brant borrowed it he put a really short stem on (and a smaller chainring but it’s hilly where he lives). I swapped the stem back but then he complained and explained that he’d designed it for a shorter stem. In the end I found a stem somewhere in between and now I’m used to it that’s perfect. Actually having a less stretched out position may be more comfortable for my neck as well. So the front hub is well in front of the bars and the steering is lively.

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I started out with Midge Bars as they seemed appropriate for the intended use but the way I had them set up meant the lower section was short and angled downwards. It occurred to me that  this makes it easier for hands to fall off the bars when riding on the drops if there is a sudden jolt (I’m desperately seeking reasons why I fell off!) so I started experimenting with other bars. When I had my bike fit done they fitted some 46cm Salsa PRT3 bars which I really liked, especially the width. They don’t make them any more but Cowbells are the same design but with a flare in the drops. I’ve fitted these and I’m very happy with them.

I’ve done all sorts of riding on it now. Through the winter I used some Schwalbe Dureme 700x40c tyres which work well on the road and are surprisingly grippy off-road too. For days when I knew I’d be going on tracks then the 650b wheels came out. I helped out marshalling for the ‘Dirty Reiver’ gravel bike event in April – 200km on the forest tracks round Kielder. My marshalling point was beside a ford which provided great entertainment – everyone asked how deep it was (hub deep!), whether it was ridable (maybe 50% made it), if anyone had fallen in (maybe 5-6 including one of the ‘sweepers’!). There’s a lot on the web about the event which was well received and most reports mention the ford – surely the best marshalling spot. In the end I spent most of the time re-building a poor chap’s chain so that he could continue (slowly) rather than walk back 11 miles to the feed station.

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I love riding it with either wheelset on but especially with the 650b wheels – it just feels like you could go absolutely anywhere. I’ve currently got the 700c wheels with road tyres on but this feels a bit limiting! It’s only because I’m trying to keep up with Sam. We’re going to the Alps when GSCEs are finished to ride up and down some passes.

I’ve just built a dynamo front wheel using the Alpkit Love Mud dynamo. The plan is to have some means of charging phones/Garmin, etc rather than lighting but I’ll probably try a light too. I’m going to try and ride to Manchester down the Pennine Bridleway over a couple of days in the summer and this makes it a bit more self-sufficient. Bikepacking is all the rage anyway.

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