Wednesday, 27 October 2010

getting messy

Been a bit wet lately but bike needed a wash anyway so came in offroad and got absolutely covered in filth. Constant spray of water flicking up from front wheel, interestingly squirmy mud was now scarily slippy. Heading along the old canal I normally ride along the stone edging, about 14" wide fairly smooth stone easy normally but when it's wet or icey I get nervous and stiffen up and that can lead to mistakes, hopping over the missing stone was managed OK but I ended up moving away from the canal edge which led to my rear wheel slipping off. You know when you bump up a kerb at an angle and the rear wheel just slides along instead of bouncing up? It was like that but with a drop to water on the other side. Eeek! A bit shook up but I kept on the stones, now I love my hope lights very powerful I got a good deal on them but one downside is that their idea of a battery meter is waiting til it's nearly dead then dropping to minimum power and flashing - which is what happened whilst still on the canal stones, argh! Unable to see much I dropped onto the muddy trail at the side just as it turned into offcamber cobbles, front wheel went sideways (towards the canal obviously) and my head went towards the wall at the other side, just saved it with a dab. Phew. So by now my nerve had completely gone, I stopped and composed myself a little but without much light the rooty wooded section was scary, tyres kept sliding around roots I hadn't seen. Today the trail owned me, ah well, some you win some you lose.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


The ride home was excellent, gave it some beans, slipping and sliding in the bit of mud through the trees, carved a few berms in drinkwater, thrutched round all the hairpin gates, trackstanding for eternity at the couple of redlights and just pretty much owned it all! (or is that pwned?)
Not so good I was reading the CTC mag and there were 2 guys on the letters page moaning about mountain bikes. 1 saying Benji Haworth (I think it was) shouldn't be recommending chapel gate due to MTBs ersoding it and 1 saying there was too much MTB stuff in the CTC mag. Like STW forum it's disappointing how many cyclists dislike other cyclists just coz they use different bars/tyres/trails/roads. Get over yourselves.

Monday, 25 October 2010

5/10 must try harder

I was liking the look of the frost yesterday so with more this morning I grabbed the SS and went to work offroad. The wet and mud had started to solidify but the permamud down at the bottom of my road hadn't and various other sections were still wet. Colder please! Well actually it's probably cold enough just need a month or so of this weather. I'd forgotten that rim brakes + sub zero + mud = no brakes, whoops. Had to stop at one point to sort out a sticky piston, whilst there I thought I'd employ a park tools mud stick and get rid of the build up of crud on my downtube/bb but no good, that was frozen on, something else I'd forgotten. I saw 2 deer near the forest bank crim centre, nice, then a bit later there was the most fantastic view. The sky overhead was almost purple, lower down that morphed to azure with a little bit of pink cloud, fading to orange and red on the horizon, the towers of manchester in the foreground and the peak district behind, below there was the bridge over the river with a bit of mist coming up of the water then the whole lot was reflected in the millpond calm on the irwell. Awesome, certainly took my mind off my hangover.
Bike is now in the loading bay, defrosting and no doubt leaving a puddle of mud, will have to consider fitting discs but my trusty Z1s don't have tabs, altho I did notice my "trusty" Z1s had oil on one of the stanchions, might have to fit the newer not improved bombers.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

3rd Time lucky

Sitting comfortably? Right as you know I broke my hardtail a while back so I checked t'internet for a cheap replacement, 18" ragley mmmbops have similar angles/lengths to the xc120 and only £155 so I'll get one. Ordered 4th Sep, got it on the 9th, I fit the headset - pain in the arse, scratched it up getting the cups in, fit the BB, hmm not quite right, both cups aren't flush, ah well, I fit the crank anyway but there's a tight spot when I spin them. Hmm speak to Brant he says see LBS about a tap and reface, LBS's don't have the tools plus they say it looks like the BB has been tapped at an angle so facing won't work. Return to CRC, they tap and face and send it back (postage refunded thanks) fit cups, nope LBS was right cups still aren't flush. Return frame. New frame with headset cups fit by CRC (phew) BB looks better, possibly not spot on, but cranks spin fine so I'm ok with that. Finish building bike on the stand, everything done just fit the wheels. Hmm disk won't go in caliper, hang about that's not right, the nds chainstay is obviously flared out too far so post welding they have manipulated the dropout so a hub will fit in there but that's left the brake mounts wayyyyy out of line. Hmm, return frame. Get a call from CRC "whats wrong with it?" fair enough I didn't spot it straight away "try fitting a wheel" "ah, refund or new frame" well I've had to buy a headset, seatpost collar and BB/cranks to fit this and I'm still without a bike so replacement frame it is. CRC do a proper job on this, fit a brake and wheel, fit my BB cups give it a thorough once over and finally 6 weeks after ordering I get a working frame. Not bad customer service but I've got reservations about the ragley factory QC.

Anyway I finally got it out for a ride last night, first impressions too small, too stiff, too green, too loud. While a similar length and angles the frame is not as tall as the 120, a 400mm seatpost is right on the limit of minimum insert (or possibly over, minimum insert mark has rubbed off), I have 2.5" of spacers on the steerer. Going over rocks shakes me up despite using the same tyres and forks as before, shoulders and legs all battered after wildeswood. The big ali tubes amplify every sound, freehub tick, grit hitting the downtube, gear changes etc. So not going great then, however as the ride went on I started to like it, definitely stiff but maybe not as bad as I thought, I'm still used to riding the heckler and don't think my arms and shoulders have recovered yet from weekend. It's a similar length to the kinesis but lower and at the end of the ride I was starting to rip into corners, pushing harder than usual. So more punishing but more accurate, could be interesting, the jurys still out and the search begins for a cheapish >400mm seatpost.

Frame number 2, hmm theres something not quite right there. Wonky rear end

Very green isn't it? Full build, it needs a new saddle and a higher rise stem, other than that seems ok

Monday, 18 October 2010

A day spent not pedalling

Johnnie went and signed us up for an uplift day at Ae Forest (scotlandshire) think he just wanted an excuse to visit the motherland. Mark, who hates riding uphill, unbelievably couldn't make it but Ryan the part time downhiller took his place so along with Si the 4 of us headed up there. With the exception of Ryan we had the weediest bikes there but with his full facer and borrowed body armour Johnnie looked the part - if you ignored his tights. First run down we were advised to go down the shredder but we had been warned thee were some do or die sections on bot runs and they weren't signposted (gulp). Shredder is like llandegla or lee quarry on steroids, bigger drops, bigger jumps, steeper switchbacks but similarly flowy and eggs you on to go faster. We saw the DHers ahead stopped at the fireroad jump a 4-5ft drop where you tired to clear a fireroad and land on the downslope. We watched a DHer come up short and bottom out very harshly on the flat (on an 8" travel bike) hmm. 2nd run down on a whim I went for it, again came up short and bottomed out big time, got full travel on my forks (1st time ever!) and tweaked my knee. 3rd time I didn't bother but Ryan did, he was short too and slammed down, Johnnie came round the corner and stopped next to it, then Si came tearing round the corner I thought bloody hell he's going for it! Nope he'd forgotten it was there, too slow, nose heavy his front wheel pile drived into the ground followed by his head - not good. He got up feeling OK-ish but his glasses had cut pretty bad into his ear, tacoed front wheel, I stamped on it till it was true enough to roll, helped him fit a new tube then he minced down and off to A&E. We were late for the uplift so I charged down, properly quick, barely in control but made it back incident free and in time for the bus.

The downhill run was more technical, rooty and rocky with some tight switchbacks oh and a HUUUUGE stepdown which we looked at and said no way. It was good to see that on the tech stuff similar to what we normally ride we were a similar speed to the downhillers, then on the silly big drops and jumps they kept going while we minced. After 7 runs down Ryan was threatening to sit one out as he was tired....tired he's 22 he should be able to sit on a bus and ride down a hill FFS. Actually by then my hands were getting tired, braking was hard work, anyway we persuaded him mocked him till he relented. We did the shredder again and this time tried the log ride, Ryan went 1st I followed, from the start it was looking bad, was going to fall to the left but hung on and recovered then started to go right argh, tried to keep on but no chance, so jump off bike or ride/drop off? Jump/drop/jump/drop eek, I dropped, nearly landed it too but bars twisted and threw me off, Ryan cleaned it git! The last few runs we had it dialled and ripped down, really good fun, DH was good but shredder was better, so many jumps/drops to fades where you seems to be in the air for ages then touch down smoothly and I was getting some proper height and length on the tabletops. Managed to clear the fireroad gap on the last run aswell. Feeling rather battered today but will be going back next year, maybe a trip to innerleithan aswell.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Proper night riding

Tuesday night ride was cancelled so yesterday afternoon me and SI decided to nip upto Cragg Quarry after work, he's not been before. Drive upto his then set off, 40minutes in I realised it's a lot further to the top of rooley moor road from Si's than I remembered, getting pretty cold too. Eventually got to cragg and managed a loop in the dying light, good stuff, pedally but quite flowy, there was a lot of really good bits I'd forgotten about but I had other things on my mind last time. We had a second lap in the dark, much harder work, taking the downs a bit slower so even more pedally. Few near misses as I was coasting around the top of the berms instead of carving the start and cutting in. Ended up running out of berm a few times. Dunno how anyone would manage with just bar mounted lights, you can hit the berms so fast you need to look wayyyy ahead and scan the trail up down right and left, if you got the choice helmet mounted lights are the way to go. Was funny, stopping and looking back along the trail for Si and just seeing his light shining out above the hill he was climbing, very "close encounters" We split after that lap, he had a long downhill home I had a bit more testing route. Stupidly I did more of the loop again instead of going straight down RMR. When I did depart the loop RMR was no where to be seen I just had a rough idea of direction and a faint sheeptrack to follow, the track twisted and turned and then dissappeared. I looked ahead still no sign of RMR and no chance of tracing my route back - gulp! Started getting worried, didn't wanna get lost on the moors. I forged on and fortunatley found RMR close by, phew! Remembered the route back to sandbeds lane and over to holcombe moor OK, pretty good considering I've only done it once. It's a bugger of a climb onto the moor but I managed it and was presented with a nighttime vista different to the usual from rivi. I headed to crowthorne round the horseshoe, a bunch of bikers passed me at the maggot farm (particularly pungent!) My legs were fading fast so took the road home mostly downhill. A pretty hard route for a night ride, I was shattered at the end but it was a good blast.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Really nice chilled offroad commute this morning, sun was out (eventually) bit of mist, trails in good nick, think I saw a fox (well i saw a flash of red fur). Caught up with a guy bimbling along some very narrow singletrack so I just coasted, patiently waiting for a chance to pass, he was hardly looking at the trail just checking out the view through the trees down to the river, just soaking it all up and that reminded me what a nice xc commute I have. Got to agecroft there was still a bit of the pink of sunrise in the sky, beetham tower was rising out of the mist on manchester and a squadron of canadian (iirc) geese flew passed and landed on the river next to me - very cool.
Forgot that xc takes 20mins longer, oops, will have to set alarm earlier tomorrow.

Monday, 11 October 2010

3T backwards

So we've got a reprieve on winter for now, lovely day yesterday, I was unsure where to go, fancied a biggish ride but didn't have a load of time. A slightly slimmed down 3towers I thought, aim for 4hours. Setting off I'd initially planned to go trough the jumbles, I normally do this early or late and in minging weather so no bother but there were so many people out on the trails before the jumbles I swerved them and headed up the road to Holcombe....along with a monster headwind. At peel tower I saw a couple of guys headed over the moor, I thought they'd know the trail back to the horseshoe so I chased and caught up with them, unfortunatley they didn't, they were just exploring so I turned back. Met Mr Sparkle and friends at the bottom they'd come from Darwen over hoddlesden moor and the area Lowey was exploring a few weeks back, there's a decent route there apparently.
We were all headed to Darwen so we had a natter and Simon showed me a few new trails round there including some lovely singletrack. Simon was showing up my lack of fitness, I was ok at powering up short steep sections but on longer stuff he was leaving me for dead. Roddlesworth was busy so I was on a go slow, was a bit boring going back to rivi TBH, it was getting on and my legs were fading so I didn't do great hill was tempted tho. Rivi was packed, picked my way up the hill, the last stretch to the pike was murder, wind was back with a vengeance, getting blown all over the shop. Headed home via georges and chorley old rd as I was running late, just managed sub 5 hours. Conclusions, seems my knees are a lot better just not 100% yet, my cold still hasn't buggered off, I don't need to eat as much as I normally do (didn't eat at all during the ride) I need a new back wheel for my RM, the old one off the HT I'm using is proper heavy. 5300ft is not a lot of height gain for a 41mile ride.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

That's why

Dunno who this guy is but I like his SS write up.

Berming the midnight oil*

Johnnie fancied a change of scenery this week so me and Si met him at Lee Quarry, I have been up here on an evening before but it was only just getting dark as we left, last night was a proper blackout from start to finish. Nice night, it clouded over after sunset so not too cold but no moon or stars and we were the only ones out, had the place to ourselves, perfect. The newish rocky singletrack climb was hardwork in the dark, dabs all round, and the steep roll-in is a lot harder when you can't see anything until you've gone over the edge but we made it to the skills area relativley unscathed. Did the ace big bermed red run there a few times, first time down was dodgy my lights weren't setup right for it, but then again it's not often I've got too look way up, above head height to spot my line (those berms are HIGH). With my lights set higher the next runs were better. We did the rest of the loop, coming round a corner at the far end of the quarry there was an awesome view, dark to the left and right, bit of trail ahead illuminated by my hopes then the blackness of a drop and the lights of Stacksteads close but way down below us. I've never done a nightride on such a precipitous trail before, pretty cool. The ginnel and the jumpy bottom section were a lot more involving in the dark. I held the gate open at the very bottom, bad move, Si tried to corner on the loose gravel and binned it. Another quicker loop followed, I rode the optional black drop offs again - with my forks locked this time Doh. Had a go on the pump track, all of us on full sus made it very hard work. Hit the jumpy bits harder this time and managed not to die. At the bottom again I held the gate open this time Johnnie tried to make the corner....and didn't. A nice change to the usual rivi run and a reminder of what nightriding can be like, depending solely on that little illuminated spot infront, we know rivi so well there's not a massive difference doing it at night. Good stuff.

*sorry best I could come up with

Monday, 4 October 2010


Bit of a mixed bag really, kielder and quite a few away rides was rather good, Kielder eating my knees, me breaking my backwheel and mental rain turning the trails to mush wasn't so good, as born out by the pathetic 316 mileage (and a third of that was 1 ride!). I've rested my knees since ambleside but the gentle commute this morning showed they still aren't 100%, fingers crossed they are sorted soon.

Aims update, a few things ticked off, looks like 3000 xc miles is out, I've not broken 2000 mark yet and only 3 months to go, stw weekender never happened, coast to coast hmm we'll see, doubtful tho. Maybe if I commute xc for the next 3 months I could crack 3k, cleaners would probably ban me from the building tho.