Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Out riding again yesterday, for some reason Si didn't fancy another hikeabike, so nan bield was scrapped and we did the ambleside STW route I did earlier this year but we parked at clappersgate and left the killer loughrigg fell climb for the end of the day - joy :-) A long road section then climb upto iron keld, my knee's were moaning again, think I need to rest them. Downhill was good but again in my opinion seems to lack something to make it a great downhill. Tongue intake plantation was fun and surprisingly legal, news to me, slight navigational breakdown at Hodge close but eventually found the correct pile of slate to ride down. Si was not impressed with the silly steep climb up the old quarry. Missed a turning in moss rigg wood but found a section with a pretty serious penalty for error. Back on track Si showed me up infront of walkers by successfully crossing the ford at little langdale while I minced across the bridge. Sawreys wood then a brief detour up lingmoor fell, got chatting to some walkers, when they heard we were headed for loughrigg terrace they questioned whether it was a bridleway, of course it is, I was just waiting for them to comment on the non-ROW we were stood on but they didn't :-) Sawreys wood again then the looong climb upto high close, which Si wrongly assumed was the killer climb I had talked about. The terrace was quiet and most walkers were cool we only recieved a couple of scowls.
Si was overjoyed when he saw the lungbusting tarmac climb from Rothay bridge, I've done this climb lots now but always at the start of a ride with cold legs, it was a little easier being warmed up...but not much. More navigation problems on the top of the fell but eventually I found the route down. Lovely twisty wooded singletrack back to the car where pork pie and various cake awaited, mmm. 22 miles and just a little short of another 5000ft ride.
Map for julbags, from the original ride, we didn't do the bit through skelwith fold wood


Well Skiddaw was so good and I had a fresh volunteer (Si) so went back on friday. We went straight up latrigg, was hard work on my (still) sore knees, didn't bother attempting to ride any of the path up skiddaw. Wind was pretty fierce as we made our way up the switchbacks, windproofs on. Managed to get riding again after the switchbacks, it was hard work getting blown by the crosswind but atleast we were riding again and we finally passed the walkers who we'd seen at the bottom. The top section was awful, pushing into a monster wind, worst I've ever experienced, hunched over the bars pushing up, backwheel getting blown sideways over the scree, I had every layer and thick gloves on and still I was getting chilled. Hunkered down at the top trying to get some feeling back into my hands, I'd be needing some fine tuned braking on the steep scree that followed. We set off and were soon thankfully out of the wind, didn't do quite aswell and had to stop on a tricky part, Si crashed right behind me, clouting his glasses on a rock, good job he had them on! Managed to get going again and did ok, hit th end section pretty quick just and launched over some rocks just as the wind picked up again and nearly blew me over. Ullock was a lot harder in the wind, going slow into tricky stuff then the wind would stop you dead or knock you off line. Didn't ride a couple of sections I managed last time or the cliff (obviously). Si was doing really well, there were only a couple of bits I rode that he didn't altho he did say there were sections when he just blindly followed me down, which if he had stopped and looked he may not have ridden :-)
Still an excellent bit of trail even with the wind. My knee's were proper aching on the road back up to latrigg but it's too good to miss out. On the way down I slowed approaching a blind corner, sure enough around it there was a group of elderly walkers. I slammed on and slowed right down to walking pace before I got to them but I'd already startled them, bloke at the front told me I was going too fast and a woman called me a silly boy(!) I told them there was one more rider behind me as we heard Simons approach, he too slowed and stopped but they ripped into him. "this is a footpath" no it's not. "You were on the wrong side of the road" it's not a road and you were on my left. "You were going too fast" I stopped safely. They weren't having it, we were naughty and they were going to tell us off. Si wished them a nice day and we carried on.
Next we went down to derwent and did the start of borrowdale bash, Birketts leap was fantastic as usual, Si had a minor off on the big rocks but otherwise he cleaned the rest including some proper sketchy loose stuff in Frith wood. We wanted to do the castle crag section too but it was getting on and I had to get back to pick up charlie so we took the road back to the car. Another sorted day out of proper technical riding, just 21miles but over 5000ft again (5350 actually).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

More awesome than the awesome-ist thing in awesometown.

Apologies to lowey for pinching his ride.
By tuesday I still hadn't decided where to ride but I warned Johnnie we would be riding something steep and rocky on wednesday. Picked him up nice and early and we made our way to Keswick. Got on the M61 and immediatley had to leave due to M6 being closed, great start, Johnnie found us some quiet roads to skirt round preston and eventually we were on our way. Finally decided on Skiddaw/Ullock pike, parked up at the bottom of latrigg, did the blencathra climb, the steep bit at the head of the valley has been sanitised, easier now but a bit boring. Wasn't pushing hard so didn't expect to clean the rocky bit up lonscale, I just focused 3' infront of my wheel and didn't plan ahead, as I hopped up onto the big stone halfway up I had to trackstand a second to regain balance (Johnnie accused me of showboating) I thought I might actually make it but not to be lost it not long after on the last tricky bit. Dropping down to whit beck johnnie nearly hit a tree, then the monster climb of skiddaw began. Absolutley brutal, not tech, plenty of grip but stupidly steep. I rode a bit collapsed in a heap, rode untill collapsing again, decided this technique would cause some major bonking later so resorted to shanks's pony. Quite a few walkers but the clouds were brewing and several turned back before little man. A bit of riding then before the final push to skiddaw man. Saw a couple on bikes coming down, the guy was taking it pretty slow and his lady friend was walking, ouch - long walk up long walk down bet he was in trouble later. By now we were in cloud, for a while we could just see Keswick below then it too was gone, nowt but cloud. Had a chat with a guy at the top then saddled up for the touted "best descent in the lakes" Only just saw the trail in the mist/cloud a tiny ribbon of trail perched on the side of a huge scree slope. I was going down heavy braking on the limit of traction on the loose stuff, paused to wait for Johnnie, looked back and saw he was having trouble walking down, that's when I realised how steep it was. Due to a last minute wheel swap Johnnie only had 160mm discs and they just weren't cuttting it here. Saw some walkers struggliing up, one old lady said "you're mental" and then we didn't see another soul til the road at the bottom.
Ullock pike was brilliant, tight twisty singletrack switchbacks interspersed with pick your own line, open rocky drop sections. After nailing a long sweet section I stopped and started jumping up and down whooping, like a kid with the keys to the sweet shop. MTB nirvana, I was very happy.
There was one section I looked long and hard at but didn't attempt, the rest was just right for me. Johnnie rode a lot of it, getting more comfortable on his 5. Nearly lost his lid tho, while I was checking out the un-rideable bit he took a break, removed his helmet but the wind caught it and it started to tumble downhill fortunatley it caught on some heather 20ft down otherwise it would still be falling/rolling now. It finished with grassy singletrack and then a drop through dodd forest. took the road back up to the car park below skiddaw and did the Latrigg section which was unusually fairly walker free. The heavens opened as we got to the car, perfect timing, excellent trails, contender for ride of the year.
So good I think I'll go back very soon.
No pics, too much cloud anyway but el-boufador got some decent ones here when he did it and peachos too. Oh and Freeridenick who's pics were the inspiration for the ride.
21miles 5000ft!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

salford crescent refurb

Lots of work going on at the crescent right now, a part of my road commute, at first I assumed it was gas/water work thats been going on all over manchester but no it appears they are making big changes. Bus lanes in either direction have been closed off and they are extending the pavements. Why? the pavements infront of the uni are colossal, the section between the uni and the train station are of a decent size, admittedly overgrown trees encroach on the pavement but gentlemen of salford I give you the black and decker hedge trimmer. Anyway it's currently a bit of a mess, what was a relativley safe easy section of road (with the odd bus lane raider to dodge) is now a PITA.
A bit of googling shows it might not be all bad (for cyclists and bus-ists) sabre (no I don't know who they are either) has a discussion on it and this link seems to show they are cutting speed down from 40-20 and will still have bus/bike lane. Basically a major facelift, 1 car lane, 1 bus lane, an extra crossing to contend with but basically not too bad if they get the link up with broad street right. Nightmare for drivers tho. Lets just hope no one gets smeared over the road during the work disruptions.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Winter is upon us

On saturday the forecast for sunday said rain during the night then showers in the day so plans were made to do walna scar and possibly parkamoor. In the morning I packed the car in heavy rain, Johnnie called with reservations, we decided on a course of MTFU. Before I set off I had a quick recheck of the forecast, it now said heavy/torrential rain....ah, change of plan. Probably a lucky escape there, I had visions of mountain marathon video footage from the other year, monsoon, mountain rescue, news crews calling the participants idiots. Anyway we met up at rivi later for a more tame ride. Took the SS, not ridden it for a while and it showed, my slow speed thrutch technique needs a bit of a brush up. The rain was on hold but there was a river running down AICR, riding wasn't too bad, we stuck to decent surfaced trails and my clothing was doing a good job of keeping me warm and dry, when I mentioned this Si and Johnnie threatened to throw me in a reservoir. Rivi, wildes matchmoor, winterhill, not a bad short route, finished with 2 lads and wildes. I hit 2lads pretty quick, was making decent time down it, got to the drop offs and was doing OK, until the last, biggest one, went a little squirelly on the landing, veered right, into the side of the gully, a tank slapper moment concluded with a proper OTB at speed. Jumped up quick and got going before the lads caught up but at the bottom owned up to the crash, think both of them had had "moments" too. 2nd big crash on this bike in 12months, got to remember this bike is not as forgiving at speed as my others. We got back to cars wet through, a paltry 11miles, good laugh tho. Plenty of people out despite the weather, good to see.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Annual llandegla trip

Weather was looking grim so me and Johnnie headed for a trail centre, not been for a while and they've added quite a bit of stuff. The skills bit at the start is OK, had a go on the drops then the little jumps. 1st go on the big jumps was ok but 2nd time I fluffed the first and landed well out of shape, ahem, back to trail riding for now. Did the original red/black run as far as Offa's Dyke, good laugh, nice and fast singletrack downs, knees still sore so was pushing quite a few of the fire road climbs. Up Offa's for another run, this time we did parallel universe a jumpy section where we were warned "crash landing is dangerous" good to know. You also needed jumping skills AND landing skills, well useful to have both skills I guess, body armour also required - damn, I fail. I recklessly gave it a go anyway, loadsa fun, not so much jumps as launch pads, no jumping skills neccessary (good job as I have none) just hit it fast and you are catapulted into the air, wahey. Tabletops, step up and downs and some tame (ie you won't die if you come up short) doubles. We pushed straight back up and had another go at that, I tried to squash the jumps a bit so I wasn't overshooting the landings. Johnnie wasn't feeling quite so comfortable, some setup/getting used to new bike issues I think but he still enjoyed it. Did the rest of the loop with a good play on the pump track, VERY tiring on a sqaushy FSer but just about doable (ie i could get round a few times sans pedalling, I couldn't jump at all).
A monster burger at the cafe before we left, a decent day out. Liking what they've done with the place, rain held off too, only dissapointments were the notshore bit has been dropped, a cpl of closed sections and the ridiculous amount a crap left by bikers, gels, cake wrappers, inner tubes, relentless/monster cans, pretty annoying.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

ride fail - again!

After (gently) mocking Johnnie about the state of his bike the other day I suffered some karmic payback. Met up with Burk and Si for a planned loop round darwin tower, kicked off from barrow bridge and did san marino, wet but lots of fun. Had to climb over the walls at the dam road again but soon onto witton weavers were at a gate I noticed a problem. Back wheel was very wobbly, driveside of axel had a lot of play, non drive side solid. Hmm, tried the locknuts but they were too tight to undo with trailside tools so I bailed, rolled home on the blacktop. Weather was pretty grim so Burk and Si binned the rest of the ride too but took a slightly more scenic route back. Not cracked wheel open yet so dunno what the problem is.

3rd fail this year not good, 2 mechanicals and 1 weather fail. Grrr.
Oh and it seems the indian summer is off, we're straight back to winter, 6months of this lame weather :-(

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Top bodge

Excellent! I've just multirelease-ified my XT shifters, well ryan in the workshop did anyway. Turns out shimano have done what I've heard of several electronics companies doing. Use the same hardware/manufacturing for the top and not so top of the range models then disabled the really fun stuff on the cheaper models to justify prices. Bit of bodgery and your XT shifters behave just like XTRs.

Time for mtb top trumps does M952 beat M770? Do I replace the older XTR shifter on my heckler with this bodged XT or just put it on my hardtail? Oh the pressure.

Nightride slackers

Out on tuesday, went to pick up Johnnie cos he had some bike parts for me, running early so called in at Fredericks for a 2 scoop cone, mmm. Johnnie's bike was in a typical state of functionality, no front brake and the forks were on backwards :-) Met Si at the barn where the midges were out in force so we got moving ASAP as soon as Johnnie had a working bike. It was definitley more about getting out and having a laugh than the riding, just upto the pike, upto 2 lads backdown and then wildeswood, doubt we hit double figures but it was fun. Johnnie had gone back to work after time off so was in quite a caustic mood and we had a good rant/blather about lots of stuff. Looks like kielder destroyed my knees, was thinking of going back up the hill to do ICR but my knees said no and Johnnie and Si weren't bothered either.
Yesterday - incredibly - a day off coincided with gorgeous weather but I spent it indoors :-( waiting for more bike stuff :-) and getting some painting done :-( Knees were still sore riding (very gently) in this morning hope they're fixed for weekend.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Brighten the place up

I don't post enough pics, can't be having text, text, text so I'll do a job lot at once.

Midgie-ed, I managed to get all these bites in the time it took me to sit down and eat my burger immediatley after Kielder, very itchy today.

This is what happened to my bashring when I hit that rock on the ICR the other week.

The other affected area

Crack goes 3/4 of the way round the chainstay.

A "before" shot of the wheel I built, unlike a lot of people Charlie likes very clicky freehubs. He likes turning things, it his "schema" apparently. Didn't bother with an "after" shot considering the job I did of building it but it's now running sweetly thanks to Mr Smith the LBS owner.

This is Charlies birthday present for later in the month, Shhhhh don't tell him, it's a surprise.

Sunday, 5 September 2010


Well that was an experience. Wasn't feeling good friday so was quite cross, tried having a lie in but it just wasn't happening. Lay in bed wondering whether to bother, fully expected to drive up feel rough as toast saturday do a few miles then crash out and drive home, this could be an expensive drive. Got up bad temperdly packed the car, begrudgingly had my brekkie killed a bit of time, went to morrisons got my mrs some lunch then took it up to her work. Just didn't wanna leave. Finally thought sod it and set off. Got there and pitched tent upto sign in and met Samuri, sat and chatted with him, Mike and a guy I met on the lee quarry STW ride. Midges EVERYWHERE, really annoying. I'd brightened up with the atmosphere but still not optimistic, was expecting to not be able to breathe going up the first hill then blow up spectacularly at 30mile mark - not a bad prediction.

Race day came round woke up it was bloody freezing, trying to put on suncream when it's dark and cold is not fun. Cold home made rice pud for brekkie mmm. I was one of the early birds so was at the front, it was chilly waiting at the start line but we were soon off. The ride out I was taking steady felt OK, very misty, people just streaming passed me, waved at Trio as she passed. At the first climb I stood up, chest felt awful and I got a bit dizzy so I sat back down again but otherwise I was going along OK. Skipped 1st station so caught up with trio chatted for a while I kept pulling away on the downs, she needs more ballast to keep up - more cake! :-) but she caught up quickly on the flat/ups. We were spinning along managing an 11.5 average for the first 20miles next feed I stopped and I didn't see her again. 20-30 was hard work, lots of climbing in the first half of the course, 30-40 was really hard, was getting saddle sore (!) had bitten my cheek a few time so that was constantly bleeding but I thought I might make the 50 or 65mile cut off.40-50 was horrible just wanted to be at home, in my own bed and my mrs bring me tea and cake til I felt better, figured I'd definitley get cut off at 65 even if I had to hang around for half an hour until time was up! 50-65 wasn't too bad, awful climb up rubble-y zig zags but then the giant boardwalk to the top was weirdly cool and the trip over to scottish land was grassy and draggy but OK.

The lentil soup and tuna butties at newcastleton were heaven! I was feeling better and was quite a bit ahead of cut off, set off again. The trails here were lovely, proper twisty turny forest stuff then a long flat (thankfullly) drag back into englandshire and the 80mile mark. Saddle sore was chronic now and I realised why, I'd put an extra 20psi in my rear shock for less bob more efficency, unfortunatley my arse was paying the price. I'd beaten the last cut off and only 20miles to go, thats a tuesday nightride I can knock those out in my sleep. The longest hardest 20miles I have ever done, was chatting to Christen an ex-american for most of it, we were riding for ages til we got to a marshal point he said 6.5 miles to go, you are joking no way have we only done 13.5. Grrr. keep going, singletrack, big climb on double track, about 20mins and a few miles later we see "5miles to go" Arrrgh. I kind of lost it a bit then head went, these were proper country miles. Pushed on swearing and cursing. Finally got to the last checkpoint just 2miles of singletrack descent to go and a big gap infront of me cos I'd slowed right down. Hit the downhill at full tilt, Innappropriate speed considering time in the saddle and fatigue but I was loving it, eventually caught some riders and then slowed to sensible speed and followed them in.

12:40 8mph average, 107 miles apparently a shedload of climbing. Feeling pretty ravaged now, legs are gone, backs aching can't decide whether my knees or arse hurt more but very happy with the result - I won't be back next year tho :-)