Dummy Weekender

A quick mid-winter coastal campout on the Big fat Dummy to make the most of a scarce spell of fine weather.

With a rare spell of high pressure in the forecast it was very much a case of throwing some camping clobber at my Big Fat Dummy and pedalling off to make the most of it for a long weekend before the return of the inevitable gales and perma-drizzle. It’s been tough being back, it doesn’t really feel like home any more; I think a decent length of time away, enjoying the simplicity of life on a bike, accentuates just how much has changed in the last few years, especially down here in Cornwall. At the last minute I changed my planned destination of a favourite wild beach on discovering that the relentless commercialisation of the Cornish coast had reached even there with the construction of a new cafe. The only people happy about it I think, based on the comments in the news piece I saw, are the owners and prospective tourists… so and so from London who “can’t wait to visit in August”. I don’t understand why everything here has to be about making ££; would it really be so bad to maintain a few spots that didn’t have car parks, cafes, and toilet blocks…

The Dummy is a super bike for local exploration. With such carrying capacity packing is pretty much just a case of throwing whatever at it; it swallows the lot with ease, whether a pair of wellies for beach exploration, fishing gear, or wetsuit and snorkelling stuff for summer evenings camped on the coast.

That aside, mid-winter is the perfect time of year for enjoying the coastline in relative solitude; with sunset around 4.30pm those folk that can be bothered to get out of the car in the first place head back indoors early. Temperatures under crystal clear skies were perfect, just a couple of degrees below freezing; mild enough to be able to lie out under the stars with a mug of bourbon, chill enough to make being tucked up in a sleeping bag feel really good.

Light winds and winter sunshine.
Extended winter dusks are the best; Pinks and blues slowly turning to deep purple as the earth shadow creeps across the sky.
The light lingers for a good hour and half after sunset.
The richest part of the Milky Way is not visible at this time of year.. but the skies are still pretty nice. Orion, visible top left, being so distinctive, was the first constellation I knew as a child, and was a constant companion on cold winter nights out fishing. It’s always felt like something of an anchor to home when I see it from my tent in other parts of the world, most recently down in South America.
Winter dawn is equally lovely.
Coffee on.
Trails are mostly really very sloppy at the moment… happily however early morning brought frozen mud for a change.
Not just for utility. The Dummy is a super bike for local exploration. With such carrying capacity packing is pretty much just a case of throwing whatever at it; it swallows the lot with ease, whether a pair of wellies for beach exploration, fishing gear, or wetsuit and snorkelling stuff for summer evenings camped on the coast somewhere.


2 thoughts on “Dummy Weekender

  • Interesting to see that your Big Dummy has a derailleur setup instead of a Rohloff. Was this a deliberate choice, or is the Big Dummy not a Rohloff-ready frame?

    It is a pity that your site tries to hijack the right-click button for images. This is trivial to circumvent and readers have to do so in order to zoom in on the photo to admire the details of the bike.

    • hey, I believe the Big Fat Dummy will take the 190mm axle version, with torque arm etc, if you wanted to do that, but the Rohloff is unsuited to this bike IMO. While an “about town” cargo bike would be fine with a rohloff, to reach the full hauling potential of the Big Fat Dummy, particularly on dirt, steep terrain etc, you need to run some very low bottom gearing, eg 22×42 or 22×46, which is outside the range of ratios, and hence torque, that Rohloff warranty the hub for. You might get away with it, the hub is generally considered to be over-engineered, but it’s an expensive risk to take. Also, and this is a bigger personal factor, I really don’t like them. I rode a rohloff hub for about 6 months years ago and ended up hating it. They’re very much ‘marmite’, love it or hate it product I think. While some people love them, and I understand why, I personally don’t consider them to be particularly great and a panacea for everything; in all my decades of touring, bikepacking, cycling trails all over the world I have never suffered a failure of a derailleur drivetrain or been unable to find spares locally. Rohloffs are heavy, annoyingly noisy in the low ratios, I find the shifting to be agricultural at best, and the oft-touted claims about efficiency are not accurate; in general a Rohloff hub is about 2% less efficient than a well-maintained derailleur, even less in the lower range. I agree on a long tour maintenance of a derailleur might be an issue for some, but it has never been so for me.
      I also enjoy wheelbuilding and messing with different wheels with varying tyre choices and so on depending on the riding I’m doing. The dummy for example needs a heavy tread on the rear for sufficient traction on steep, loose climbs with a light load, but for more all-round use having a wheel with a less aggressive tread ready to go is beneficial, especially given I run it tubeless which makes tyre swapping on a whim less than practical.

      As for the right click, yes I am fully aware it is easy to circumvent, I accept the internet being what it is, people will always try to help themselves, and I agree it is not perfect for the overall desktop-user experience but for a couple of reasons I’m just not that bothered:

      1. The majority of users view the site on mobile / touch screen devices for which there is essentially no right-click event, images can be zoomed using a touch-pinch gesture, so there is no user experience impact here.

      2. This is merely a personal blog, not a commercial site, and it is sufficient to discourage casual theft as the majority of people are not aware of how to circumvent it, and having suffered terrible problems with image theft for a variety of commercial and otherwise projects I decided to block it, show a copyright message, and not worry about what people thought about that. For those that can be bothered to work around then good luck to them. I’m not trying to sell products or services or attract as many readers as possible.

      The blog is due a rebuild but it’s an extremely low priority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: