Thursday, 30 April 2009

April and other news

A reasonable 473 miles this month but a whopping 323 of them were off road,I'm quite happy with that.
In other news we got a second car, Mrs D has to drive while shes at work so we got a little chevrolet Matiz, 4yrs old, immaculate condition only done 3500miles (I did more than that on my bike last year!) A massive 796cc engine, rock and roll, but I've driven it a few times and it is sorted for town driving, loads of room inside, seems to have a power assisted clutch, I kept nearly putting my left foot through the floor first time I drove it. Really light gear changes too, seems to have a close/low ratio gearbox so pulls away from lights OK and has a combined mpg of 54. The corolla (you can tell I'm a real petrolhead cant you) can now stay on the drive all week and I'll just get it out at weekends for bike transport/day trips/whatever.

I seem to be turning into Victor Meldrew, I was on the train the other day we were crammed in like sardines and apart from being able to clearly hear a guys ipod who was stood 3 or 4 people away from me (some sort of "bitter sweet symphony" mashup if your interested) all was well. Then I heard this Tsloch.....Tsloch....Tsloch. It had probably been there for I while but I just started to notice it. Tsloch........tsloch...tsloch........tsloch. Hmm, looking round I see ipod man is chewing gum with his gob open, it's really, really loud and its irregular, slow then dead fast then slower, proper getting on my tits it was. This guy is well dressed, suit, shirt and tie, presumably got a decent job and reasonably intelligent so why is he chewing like a slack jawed imbecile? Normally I suffer from chronic englishness, don't complain about anything ever, but after a few minutes of this I can feel my blood boiling, I leaned forward and attracted the guy's attention. He took an earphone out and I told him to shut his mouth while he is chewing as it was annoying. I should have added "and turn down your bloody stereo" but I was happy with that, he shut his gob, I calmed down and could think straight again. Everyone I've told this to so far has said he could be a psycho and I could have been stabbed, but with all the people he'd have had to wait till we got to a station and some people to get off and I was nearer the door so no worries :-)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


San Marino descent climb, singlespeed, done.
Back on the singlespeeds today, I rode the pompino to work, inbred for a tuesday night ride (notice the pattern? Sun=gears, rain=SS) The weather forecasters were conspiring to prevent me riding, predicting heavy rain and it was trying all the way home from work but I M'd TFU and went out. It was fine, no rain and the ground was dry considering all the rain lately. Flew up barrow bridge so decided to give winter hill a go, not tried it singlespeed before. Went up to the mast Lowey's way, down san marino then back up. Not as hard as I thought it would be (Darwen hill is harder) my wrists were aching at the top but that probably had a lot to do with the beating they got on the way down. Down the "back way" onto belmont old road (oh and after a few weeks on hardtails and FS both those downhills were as much fun as you'd expect them to be on a rigid...ouch!) over to rivi, no chance of me doing the ICR sans suspension, down Jon's 200 backup chorley old road and down to B Bridge again. Legs are feeling it today.

Big Day Out

STW massive strike again, I went up to Swaledale on sunday, I set off in plenty of time, up the M6 through sedburgh and along the road till I get to buttertubs upto thwaite. Driving down a nice twisty road with gorgeous scenery for a while, eventually I got to a T junction...hmmm I'm not supposed to hit a T junction, look at maop, bugger I'd gone the wrong way out of Sedburgh, I was now still 16miles away and either a 20+ mile trip back and round or take this wiggly B road. B road it is, I was caning it along cos I was now in danger of being quite late and it all got squiggly. The road was twisting and weaving, dipping and rising, all singletrack, just a bit wider than the car, I was bloody loving it, eat your heart out colin mcrae, my head hit the roof of the car a few times and the bike was proper sliding about in the back. Talk about an adrenaline rush, I was buzzing, singing along to the radio absolutley loving it. Got there not too late afterall, I was trembling slightly from the adrenaline comedown as we set off, 20 of us in all.

Fremington edge is a bugger of a climb, steep with a loose covering of gravel and os so long. Your on the edge just climbing the default gradient so when it steepened up at the techy bits you were killing yourself to get over them and then there was no let up afterwards to get your breath back. I collapsed to the ground hyperventilating twice, hardcore climbing, the lack of a warm up probably doesn't help either. I may go back and try to clean it when you can get a third lung fitted in the NHS. There was a fast big ring downhill, more climbing then the swoopy fast descent to Storthwaite Hall was class. The big climb from Fore Gill gate was fun, just the right sort of smooth gradual climb where you can get into a rythmn and eat up the miles and vertical meters, I pushed it pretty hard and with the beasting of the first climb I was in danger of blowing up so I chilled a bit for the rest of the ride. Some great downhills, that short springy dales grass, it's like riding on thick green carpet, the final storthwaite section was a deep channel winding its way down the hill, all grass and all bermed, ace! On the "back breaker" (i think) I followed deejay, normally a risky move for me following a local, as I tend to go quite a lot quicker than usual, ignoring the fact that I dont know whats coming up but I survived and there were big smiles all round at the bottom. TBH I'm having real troubl;e remembering where we went and the order of climbs/downs but it was a good ride and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, I only found out yesterday Tom crashed properly banging himself up, dunno where that happened presumably near the end, broken ribs ouch! Another great STW ride roll on the next one.

Pics here and here and here

Friday, 24 April 2009

Oh yeah.....

..that's why riding in the summer can be hard work, I realised a couple of hours into my ride last night. The fact that I sweat loads in the heat means I get dehydrated pretty quick, I'd forgotten about that seeing as how we haven't had really nice weather the last year. I'd also forgotten how much hard work it is throwing the bike around, I was doing some more play riding on my way out of manchester last night, climbing flights of stairs then jumping back down them, hopping up and down stuff and generally making a hooligan of myself. The metrolink platforms in the city centre are shut, they make good launch pads. I found a carpark near the arena which had some good ledges to jump up and off (away from the cars) they have so much trouble with car crime there are 2 guys manning it, one at the entrance for payment and one in the middle on a tennis umpires chair watching for scrotes. Anyway I managed to get a flat just as one of them walked over, I thought he was going to tell me to piss off but he just chatted while I fixed my tire. Turns out it wasn't a DH tube in there after all, weird how stuff like the stairs where I expected to flat i didn't but hopping up onto a concrete block and I hooked up the rear wheel slightly pinched it. It always seems to be the innocuous knocks that give me a flat.

I'd decided to head up rivi but my legs were dying as I got into bolton, I called in home, snarfed a couple of bananas and headed out quick before I chickened out. Good ride, did back of winter hill, ICR, up AICR and rivi then down Jon's 200. Lots of downhiller wannabes out, padded up, full face helmets and goggles and BIG bouncy bikes. Where are these downhills that need such equipment? I'm sure someone must be hiding some worldcup quality downhill tracks round there somewhere.

Nearly 50miles all in, my legs were dead when I got home, was sure I wouldn't be able to ride in today but I had tuna and pasta when I got in and sat with my legs raised for the rest of the night (and scoffed a whole easter egg). I didn't feel too bad this morning so rode in no problems. My back and shoulders are sore from the urban antics but legs aren't too lifeless.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Pranging out

All hail to the downhill tube, those fat rubber leviathans have saved me some trouble the last couple of days. A lad at work just got himself a second hand stab deluxe so I've been helping him fix it up a bit, got it all setup yesterday so I give it a spin, theres a big flight of stairs outside our work so I hit those fast, tyre pressure wasn't quite high enough so the rims were pranging on the last few steps but no puncture, nice one! 2.7" tyres and DH tubes rock. So I went back and did it again, faster, cool but I gave it a rest after that. Anyway on the way in today I decided to hit the same steps just as fast on my hardtail, whoops, all was going well till I hit the bottom, as my front wheel levelled out all my weight shifted to the back and I got some very loud prangs from the step/wheel/rim interface. No flat tho, phew downhill tubes save the day again. The stab looks pretty damn cool and I would love to give it a go on a proper downhill but there aint many around and none close to here. It also weighs 40-odd lbs and doesn't have a granny ring, thats gonna restrict it's rideability. Still want one tho.

Oh and I'm sure anyone remotely interested in bikes has seen this already but if not WATCH IT, very, very, very cool video, slick editing, cool music and it all just flows really well. That's one of the reasons I was jumping off stuff and riding down steps this morning.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Back to black

I got out my canondale road bike for the first time in about 6 months and hit the black stuff, maximum speed minimum effort - nice. Sooo fast and easy to pick up speed I wanted to race all the way in but I had to reign it in, I wanna go riding tonight and my legs feel like they are running on empty. Not much grief from car drivers either, couple of them got a bit close but not too bad.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Beautiful day

Phew what a scorcher etc, etc. A nice bit of weather and no mistake, first BBQ of the year on saturday and a proper t-shirt ride on sunday. Me and burk hit the peaks, we took roych clough and rushup edge up to Mam Tor, a quick downhill then straight backup and back the way we came. There were loads of people out including a few para gliders, we got told off by a ranger cos we had missed the 3"x3" tippex bridleway sign directing us to a trail 10 feet (and one dry stone wall) to our right. And I nearly killed myself on the way back, dropping down Mount Famine at silly speed I spotted a deep water bar, I hopped it ok but landed heading straight for a bigger ditch at a very shallow angle, I just had time to heave on the bars, launch the bike skywards and pray that the suspension would soak up the hit when my back wheel hooked up on the far side (and that my brakes would stop me before the rapidly approaching dry stone wall on the far side). Scary but I managed. Then it was just downhill at warp factor 9 to the car in hayfield, pretty good day out and a lovely weekend, hope the weather holds up for next weeks swaledale ride.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Switching off

On the way home from work yesterday I was on form, I was cleaning stuff that I haven't done for a while (up the two flights of steps at blackfriars rd) and riding some stuff I haven't tried before like the steps near agecroft (tight turn in, steep stairs, tight turn out) And following the first rule of cleaning new stuff, I went straight back and did it again, and then again with my saddle at full height. Nice way to finish a pretty stressful day.

Watched the last half hour of The Hospital last night, it depressed me, no doubt it was edited to provoke a reaction but some of those young mums wound me up. Stamping their feet cos they want their pregnancy/labour to go their way despite all the health care professionals advising against certain things, then afterwards the girls saying, (surprise, surprise) next time they'd be following doctors orders. One girl was gasping just walking down the street but carried on smoking throughout pregnancy anyway, then after being presented with her healthy baby saying smoking's not as dangerous as everyone says. This was the same girl who takes the word of her mates over doctors/consultants about whats best for her and her babies health. It's not their stupidity that depresses me (I was a stupid kid once too) it's their refusal to accept that they know bugger all about bloody important things that don't just affect their lives but their babies as well.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Sunshine Underground

One of those times when your mp3 shuffle matches your ride perfectly, I came to the top of winter hill with the chemical brothers in my headphones and it was building to the crescendo as I started belmont descent and finished as I hit the bottom, brilliant. Back up and off the back of winter hill to Primal Scream's Rocks, Ice Cream Run had 'I love rock and roll' (how apt) and when I flatted near the bottom 'Grazed Knees' kicked in to chill me out when it was taking forever to get that UST tyre back on. Basketcase to finish on Jon's 200. Cracking little ride only 11miles but 2200ft gained and descended.

Just exactly how ace is my ETSX ;-)

Roller coaster

A trip back to Llandegla for me and Burk on saturday, weather was nice, probably the first time I've ridden in wales when it hasnt rained! The Car Park was getting full when we arrived at 9 but we must have been moving at a similar pace to everyone else cos we didn't run into many riders. I took the hardtail and it was just right for the overgrown bmx course that this place is, slightly hairy where some big old braking bumps have now developed on the approach into some of the berms, but great for getting air* off the jumps. Slightly dodgy moment on the last bit of black, the downhill from the bridge with all the jumps, as I came to the first of the double I wasn't going fast enough so I tried to pedal to find I was still in a really low gear from the climb, no time to change gear just concentrate on jumping it, phew made it. I did one and a half laps again (back up offas dyke for a second go of all the good bits) Burk decided to just carry on so I was trying to catch him back up, no chance but I did manage to trash my legs. On 'Dave the fox' I was climbing to the top halfway along and saw a guy on a monster downhill bike all padded up, full facer and goggles setting off, I got to the top a few seconds after he'd set off so obviously tried to catch him, I kept him in sight and started to close a little but didn't catch him till he stopped for badgers rise where he stopped to take of his goggles and full facer and push up badgers rise. The downhill was about a minute long, is it really worth dragging that beast of a bike around? Mind you he was keeping up with me on the climb due to the fact the trail takes a long twisty, turny route up the hill and he was just pushing straight up the hill. It pisses me off when people do that, the trails are built and reinforced for the heavy use that trail centres get so stick to them! Anyway good ride and a nice early finish so I had loads of time for doing....erm.... nowt, just had a leisurely soak in the bath then round to the inlaws for a few beers and a curry.

*(a teeny tiny bit of air)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Electric Storm

Blackberry storm, blackberrys seem quite fashionable now and from an IT point of view not bad. Email is a breeze to setup as long as you don't mind divulging you work email credentials to your service provider, calendar syncing over the air is a little more tricky as blackberry don't bother including the necessary sync tools but no biggy. One of our users got a Storm recently the blackberry that wants to be an iphone so much it hurts. It blows big time. It's slow, freezing for no apparent reason occasionally, takes an age to boot up and 5mins+ for a factory restore, it causes downright strange behaviour with 3rd party apps but the absolute worst thing is the interface. The whole screen is a button, run your finger across the screen to highlight an icon, tick box or keyboard key then click down on the screen. Unfortunately its crap whenever you click it selects the button immediately above or below the one you want, normally the one that causes most disruption. e.g. I spend 10 minutes filling in the settings page using the phone text style keypad cos the predictive one is useless for server addresses and the proper qwerty keyboard wont work with all 3rd party apps, bring up the menu highlight SAVE and click, the highlight flips down to CANCEL and you lose all the settings you just put in. When it happens for the third time you get a bit pissed off. The gyro on it which tells it which way you are holding it is quite glitchy, navigation is not intuitive at all and once you do know what you are doing its clunky and doesn't work as it should all the time. Steer clear. The curve with its track ball and full keyboard is much better, if a little big.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Doe a deer...

...a female deer, well 2 female deers actually. I've seen deer up turton moor way before but not down Darcy Lever, that was a nice surprise this morning, also saw a pheasent some coots and 2 herons, the swans were hiding tho. Lots of wildlife about, there was a plague of frogs round the jumbles on Tuesday night too, I had a hard time dodging them all, think I may have clipped a couple of the poor buggers.

Last nights commute home was gorgeous, sunny, proper shorts an T shirt weather, a glimpse of what the next 5-6 months could be like (interspersed with large bouts of wind and rain obviously) I just took it nice and easy enjoying the loveliness of even this little slice of countryside nestled between the burgeoning masses of manchester and bolton. Pushed up the climbs, sat for a minute at gates and enjoyed the view, freewheeled the downhills. Nice. Knackered today, already done over 100 xc miles this week and in March I managed to clock up more xc miles than road which I think is a first. I'm going to be having a rest this weekend, with all the riding I've been doing lately MrsDonk is starting to feel like a mountain biking widow.

Down in the Valley 3, originally uploaded by D0NK.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

This is the one

Frosty ride - winter hill, originally uploaded by D0NK.

I like this bike, no I really like this bike, the STW ride was great, it climbed well and it descended with the best of them despite being amongst plenty of full sussers. It was perfect for lee quarry being a bit more precise for those balance beams than a full susser. It flew home across holcombe moor, uphill it felt like I had a tailwind behind me but nope the wind was gently blowing against my face me when I stopped at a gate. All round a bloody good ride.
So is this the one perfect bike for me? No, a couple of weeks ago I was praising my rigid singlespeed for it's simplicity, before that I was gushing about the heckler pinning all the descents and climbs in the lakes and next time I take out the etsx I'll be reporting how fantastic that is. So are all my bikes the best in the world? Do I have such a short memory I can't objectively compare them back to back? Or is it that a bike is a bike is a bike and which ever one I currently have my leg swung over is the best in the world?
Bit of all of the above I think, long may it continue.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Perfect weather to fly

Wahey some sunny weather again, yesterday was pretty damn good for a work day, I rode in then after work I put my bike in the back of Si's car and we drove up to lee quarry, I've been meaning to get up there for a while and it was well worth it. I'd heard a few people say it was very technical, the 2 guys we saw in the car park agreed and for a trail centre it is! The red/black run at Llandegla is pretty tame compared to this. The red is good, some fast swoopy bits and a few jumps, the black sections are rocky and technical. There's a skills/practice area halfway round with a seesaw and some balance beams to have a go on. Then the black run splits and drops into the quarry with some sketchy off camber rock slabs with a fair drop off the side. More tricky rock slabs at the bottom then a climb back up to the red route. The end of the red is a great fast, swoopy, jumpy, bermed bit. Lots of fun. We got chatting to a local guy who's been digging some jumps up there and he showed us a few, I had a quick go but I'm lame at jumping. We did 2 laps and Si's GPS said it was just 7.5 miles but not bad for a quick after work session and plenty of smiles per mile. I did the black section on the second lap without much drama but it would take a bit of practice to do it smoothly and really pin it. If its your first time take care, apparently there have been a few bad falls with people riding it blind at full pelt. The skull and crossbones motif on the black route signs should give you a clue :)
Afterwards Si dropped me off in ramsbottom and I rode home via holcombe moor and the jumbles, a decent bit of riding. I'd definitley recommend Lee Quarry to locals for a quick blast or for a detour if your already riding round there.