Greets from the UK.

Riding on the Salisbury Plain today was a lesson in mud mitigation. Around 1130 the rain stopped and we saw what was rumored to be "sky" overhead. By 1245 we were out on the bikes. This weekend I got my '89 Cannondale out of the shop after re-fit. I am now willing to preach the benefits of decreasing weight to any comers. I WAS riding a steel pig called for the past two weeks until the aluminum (no apologies for the Yank spelling) Cannondale from the shop. Wow.

Anyway, while slogging up a mud hill I developed some mechanical problems that lead me to ask the following questions. I'm going to butcher the nomenclature - trying to catch up but not there yet. Anyway!

Chain slippage. No issues at all in any gear on the first part of the ride. Get to a long muddy uphill stretch and two things happen. First, most of the bottom foot and a half of bike turned into a mudcicle. Just about then my chain started skipping. I assume this was because it is a) too loose and b) packed with mud and rock. On the center sprocket up front, it skipped a lot even after I half-assed washed the mud off in a puddle. A skip or two for a few minutes on the big sprocket, then the skipping was fine. Switched back to the middle sprocket - skipping returned, but not as bad as when I was doing my best imitating the Wehrmacht's drive to Moscow in autumn '41. Any advice/ideas?

Next, I have cantilever brakes. While in the same muddy area, I collected a good 2 kilos of mud around the front brakes. While comical in a sick way, combined with the chain skip mentioned above, I was forced to dust off every shred of profanity I've amassed over 16 years in the Army. Aside from "invest in a set of disc brakes, arse", do any of you have any clever ideas how to mitigate this?

Mind you I had a great ride! The Cannondale is so much nicer than the Huffy I was on, and has only whetted my desire to get a "real bike." I know I will not buy anything heavier than (here is my stab at British spelling) aluminiuiumumium (did I get it right??), I want disk brakes all round, I want a lock-out on the front suspension, and hard tale will be ok for what I ride. More to follow on that.

Thanks and happy riding.