M.T.Cranium’s Winter Outlook 2016-2017

From his boards post in the weather forum here: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=101273387&postcount=4231

“Winter 2016-17 Outlook: I am expecting a rather different outcome from last winter, and something a little similar to 2010-2011 which started out very cold and snowy, then turned much milder. This winter, I am predicting rather cold weather to start, from late November through much of December, and the opportunity for some significant snowfalls. It probably won’t be as intense as the cold or snow of late 2010, let’s say on the order of two degrees below average and 5-15 cm snowfalls possible in the period (recall that Dec 2010 produced some 30-40 cm falls in Leinster). As usual, this snowfall would be more likely in the eastern half of the country and in some parts of the northwest. Then I expect a much milder pattern to develop in January peaking towards the end of the month with very mild weather. February and March look fairly average in my research output. This winter outlook will be updated whenever I have new insights, no update means I am holding to this outlook.”

Citroen Jumpy Multispace, a little review..

On the recent kayak club Alps training and development trip, we rented a 9-seater Citroen Jumpy Multispace. I drove this tank of vehicle for some 3200 km across France, Italy and Slovenia.
My impressions overall? I’d cry every day if this was my main mode of transport. It is really not a good vehicle.

Things that were not good with it:

    The gearstick was extremely loose and felt more worn than the gearsticks in my previous Landrover 109, and this made selection of gears a best-guess at best all of the time.
    The window switches are in a really awkward place for use.
    The drink holder prevents access to the pocket underneath it.
    Nowhere to store sunglasses.
    The flat floor means that anything in the boot that can fit under a seat will end up under your brake pedal eventually.
    Driver’s seat is not comfortable, and difficult to find a less-uncomfortable seating position. I’m 1.78m tall so not freakishly sized..
    All pockets in and on the dashboard that are reachable by the driver, will empty their contents onto the floor under any acceleration or facing up a hill.
    Gaining access to the rear seats is not easy, only one side of the 2nd row tilts independently and it’s not possible to tilt the full row from one side only.
    Returning the seat back on the 2nd row farthest from the tilting seat, from forward to upright, requires reaching across that seat back to reach a tiny lever, that then requires a second hand to lift the seat back to upright.
    The 12v sockets time out for providing power after some 2 min, if the engine is not started. Very annoying when trying to charge things.
    The powered folding mirrors feel really flimsy.
    The secondary wide-angle mirrors under the exterior rear view mirrors are not adjustable in any way.
    The driver’s door closing handle is in an unexpected place, and makes it difficult to easily close the door.
    The rear passenger doors feel like they are always about to fall off.

Things that were good?

    It started.
    It stopped.
    Cruise worked.
    Aircon worked, with settings down to 14 degrees. That’s cold to drive in.
    It used less fuel than expected.
    It seated 8 people without discomfort. The 9th was in the 1/2 seat between driver and front seat passenger.
    With three rows of seating, there was a hatchback’s bootspace behind the 3rd row.

Would I buy one? God no, and I’d recommend anyone that was thinking of one to go elsewhere before admitting all sorts of defeat in buying one of these.

Way to go Tesco Mobile – cut off your paying customers..

See here: http://www.boards.ie/ttfthread/2057590673

Pretty much if you’re on Tesco Mobile as a PAYG customer, they can and will randomly cut customers off until they provide a scan of a PASSPORT. Absolutely dismal policy.

They didn’t require that level of documentation to set up the account and start taking the cash.

To see then that they’ll actually completely stop service without any warning? Preposterous!

Fox 40s arrived and are on the bike.

My new Fox 4o forks are now on the V10.

The 2016 Fox 40 Factory air sprung front forks had to be custom made as the 26″ option is no longer available from the UK distributer, so I got an option of what colour decals went on, so of course I picked the gold option. They look absolutely fantastic, with the gold decals, black lowers, and the golden colour of the Kashima anodising on the stanchions. I took the bike for a quick ride around the estate and the first impressions are that they are more plush, and definitely a better feel. Of course, it’ll be the first few trips on a real DH course that will tell the real story of if the upgrade was worth it.

Wishlist for a new trail bike – musings, hopes and dreams.

If I were building a new trail bike, what would I have? Well, it would be replacing the Reign X1 that I currently use as my XC bike. Any new bike will have to be light, full suspension, and able to handle my riding inaccuracies..

So far with a quick look around at what’s out there, this is what I’ve come up with.

  • Santa Cruz Bronson V2 CC frame.
  • Fox 36 Talas 160 forks
  • Fox Float X shock
  • XT groupset, 2×10 (or XTR Di2 if it’s more affordable)
  • SLX or XT brakes (200/160)
  • Enve 27.5 m60 wheels, Shimano hubs
  • 760mm bars
  • tubeless setup.
  • Same WTB saddle as on Reign.
  • Shimano SPD pedals.

Costly maybe, but it’s a dream bike. Maybe about 12kg all-in and strong enough to handle my waywardness on the trails, and my clumsiness!

Won’t happen unless I win a lottery type of situation, but nice to dream.

Fox 40s on the way

I’ve just ordered myself a set of 2016 Fox 40 26″ forks, for my Santa Cruz V10.4 carbon framed downhill bike. The ability to adjust the forks is something that I have wanted to play with for a while. I’m looking forwards to giving these a run down the trails in Bike Park Ireland in a few weeks..

As a result of this upgrade, I’ll have a set of 2012 Boxxer forks, with J-Tech uprated internals for sale, with a full professional service on them. Great condition too.


At lunch recently with a friend at a newly-opened Thai restaurant nearby, I decided to try using only chopsticks for the meal..
Surprisingly (for an Irishman brought up with knife and fork) it wasn’t that hard to do, once I figured out how to eat the rice with them..

At least I’m not likely to really embarrass myself with them in the future!

Getting to use the astro kit


I’m learning how to take better astrophotos.. This photo is of the current setup that I’m using for taking star photos. I’m using a Celestron Onyx 80ed refractor (black scope on the bottom) with the Canon 600d, with a field flattener and Astronomics CLS clip-in filter to take the actual images. To guide, I’m using my IKI 70ed refractor with a recently sourced Synguider self-contained autoguider, which sends corrections to my new Celestron AVX mount that I got before Christmas.
Wednesday night I tried to take lots of sub images of M51, the whirlpool galaxy. All looked good, the first night out with the guiding setup. I forgot about dew, and I had a layer of ice on the lens.. Still managed to get enough images to do this


I’m currently taking pics of the Horsehead, and also pics of comet Catalina, so we’ll see how those turn out after I get them from the camera and process them.
It’s nice to take advantage of the first clear nights in quite a while!

Fun and Games in Kerry for the Kayaker’s New Year!

2015 turned to 2016, and I spent it in the depths of Kerry once again. Spending time with ULKC members on an unofficial trip to the Kingdom, it’s the only way to ring in the new year!

Sharing the Sleepy Camel with UCDCC was enlightening, listening to the best of acoustic music, and seeing the social interactions between the club members, as well as seeing old acquaintances once more.

It was good to bump into a few of the oldies from my original era of uni paddling, Joxxer, Richie Gillespie, and a few more.

Paddling? There was some for sure. I paddled the upper Caragh at a lovely medium-high level, a few of the others paddled the Gearameane, the Owenreagh, the middle Flesk, the Roughty, as well as some other classics. 130mm of rain in 12 hours was enough to put the rivers in the area, already in spate conditions, well over flood stage and turning the waterways into large fields. The road around Caragh Lake was flooded to maybe 1 m deep, kinda scary!

The PA system in the Glenbeigh Hotel was not functioning correctly so the countdown was not properly done. Still managed a nice countdown ourselves in a corner..