Sunday, 24 April 2011

Black Ops

I'm blessed with a brilliant family but I'm also cursed with a mountain biking obsession. As obsessions go it's not bad, it's healthy, it's not illegal - apart from the odd civil infringment, sure it can cost a bit but the biggest problem is it's a time sink - not a good mix with a young family. For a few very good reasons I'm not allowed to ride at weekends at the moment, so family stuff all day yesterday, put charlie to bed at 7 then out for a ride. A proper ride, my legs were due a beasting. Been working on a definitive 3towers ride, the standard direct route is a bit boring so been working in some stuff from various routes.
Usual nightride start, barrow bridge upto 2 lads, kennel, wildeswood, bastard climb, pike, proper nice sunset, welsh hills, red sun reflecting on sea, blackpool tower, morecambe bay and cumbria hills (I think).

rubbish phone pic but you get the idea.
Down the pike, climb hole in the wall, winter hill mast and down san marino. Mistimed a drop and flatted, bugger. Precious time wasted sorting that. Belmont res road whilst not open has been modified so pedestrians can cross it (yay) across to tockholes where I picked up Mr Sparkles nightride route, got a bit lost round roddlesworth, back on track down by earnsdale, up lions den, down the tech little chute from loweys rivi ride, upto the tower then down sunnyhurst. Halfway down hitting 25-30ish some enormous beast ran across the trail right in fornt of me, had to brake to miss it. Figured out it was a hare but it was the size of a frickin dog! Down and across to whitehall along the little ginnel, setting of everyone's outside lights - sorry paul :-) Upto cadshaw, legs were feeling a bit shot but figured I only had 2 climbs to do to get to peel tower. Sure I'd have to ride home somehow but thats just details.
Crowthorne was hardwork, thats one long climb, quarlton holcombe and the steep, steep climb up peel, phew, done, noticed it was 11:30, oops. Down the stepy rocky route Mr S showed us, then backup the steep climb almost to the top to do another one Mr S pointed out, also good. Properly tired, lack of concentration had me off, going up a steepy bit, just as I was gonna heft up a step section back wheel slipped and bike stopped dead, ended up doubled up over the bars and off to the side, handlebar in the face - nice. Dropped down crowthorn, my route runs into a bit of a dead end here, only off road route I'd found is via the jumbles which is a bit pants so decided to gib out down the road. Mrs Called me at that point "Where the #@$! are you? it's gone midnight!" ahem. As I was passing I called at Turton tower to cross that off too. home for 12:30, legs shot, nice.

Would have been happier if it was a 50miler but it'll do. Good time to be out, quiet, cool and a useful time to get some riding in. As some guy said, soaking up the hours everyone else throws away.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

More haste less speed

Spring '11, rather good so far eh? Rode into work offroad monday, lovely, the (longer diversionary) ride home was slightly marred by some knob blocking the trails with branches and logs. Tool! Straight to and from work tuesday, nice. Tuesday night I met Si and Johnnie at rivi, climbed to the pike where we met 3 mtb girls discussing the porn photo shoot they had passed on the way up! A nakid young lady getting her picture taken, some wierdo/stalker came over with his tackle out (which apparently was bedecked with elastic bands) and she let him kiss her breasts. Hmmm, dunno how accurate their story was but very amusing anyway. We went over to winter hill down san marino, up san marino, down the shoulder, along the cobbled road (still plenty of puddles, how?!) and down ICR where I nearly went OTB somehow. Johnnie split there me and Si descended to the barn I stopped at the gate then heard a very loud clattering. Si's rear wheel had pinch flatted rather badly at about 25mph and his back wheel took a battering in the time it took to stop - eek.

Yesterday Burk came out of hibernation and we took a trip down to Lee Quarry. His first ride in 6 months and my legs were toast, well matched then! First half of red route, a quick play in the skills area then a trek up to crag quarry. It's a long way, surface hasn't been tamped down yet either so hard going. We did a loop of crag, there's been an extra little bit added but unfortunatley winter has taken it's toll. Quite a lot of top surface has been washed away on some berss exposing the rocks beneath which then dislodge and scatter around the trail. Still a good run and burk gave it the thumbs up. Back to LQ. Lots of new stuff near the pump track, a bigger jumpier pump track that I couldn't ride properly. A bmx-esque track and some practice step down jumps of varying size, awesome just what I need. Unfortunatley the middle and larger ones you land and immediatley hit a berm, no chance to right yourself so if you land a little wonky you're probably gonna stack. Doesn't seem right to me, I reckon practice stuff should have nice smooth run in and out, once you've got the manouver dialled then you try the same move "in situ"
Ho hum. We were both pretty tired so finished with a full run of the red from the top of the quarry, pretty good until I hit the jumps at the bottom, going too fast landed a little dodgy on the entrance to a right/left chicane, bottled it grabbed a fistful of brake and straightlined the chicane, over a berm, off course and nearly stacked. Idiot. I need to smarten up, my 3 point plan is:
1. Ease off the speed slightly and i'll retain much more control.
2. when it goes pear shaped dont tense up, stay relaxed.
3. stop grabbing brakes when the afore mentioned fruit based situations occur.
Gorgeous day, gentle intro for burk and ice cream on the way home, hawkshaw village shop does fredericks mmmmm rum and raisin.


Portal 2 is out, if you've never played portal do so asap, it is mental. Will have to look into obtaining a copy of 2.

Friday, 15 April 2011


Things are looking up, whilst it's not been warm or sunny the trails are drying out quick time, I can only put it down to mother nature sticking a big straw in the ground and sucking all the water up, you gotta love spring. Riding home last night I paused at drinkwater park when I saw a mtber at the top of a biiig steep chute, he backed out of view got a run up and charged down and directly to where I was. A lad about 15 I guess, I asked him how to get to the top, he offered to show me, I had to get back home but he was keen to show off his trails so I agreed. Chatting on the way up he asked why I'd SSed my bike (just because), he does a lot of downhill stuff, steve peat is a friend of the family and they occasionally ride warncliffe together (cool) Whilst at the top a guy I'd seen commuting in the morning came along looked at the chute and asked if there was a "less scary" way down, nope :-) back the way you came I'm afraid. Chatted some more, rode the chute him a lot faster/better than me, then I carried on home. Nice to see more bikers about.
The ride in this morning was a bit special, first of all this made me smile roadworks
Then going through clifton park, a single track bit, fence on one side, a ditch then steep bank full of brambles and shrubs on the other, I come round a corner and there's a deer on the path! He takes off but he can only follow the trail, "right I'm having him" I gave chase. Spent about 30 seconds chasing (and I was gaining) untill a gap in the greenery let him escape. Wow, now that was VERY cool.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Downer (a bit of a moan)

I'm rapidly becoming a congregation member of the Church Of The Little Ring (as opposed to these guys) my knees are playing up again so I'm back on gears and spinning away madly in teeny tiny gears to try to give them a break.

Commuting last Friday was marred a bit by dodgy feckers in clifton on the rob from recently closed businesses. I'd met some guys carrying cable away on wednesday, on friday another 2 guys were stripping the cable shielding away with a handheld circular saw. One was on lookout duy but failed to spot me, I had to shout over the noise of the saw for the operator to get out of the way. Shielding will no doubt be fouling up the trail for months. Scrotes. The blocked ROW I mentioned back in Feb has been blocked again (some cheeky monkey ripped down the shoddy fencing) Still doesn't look official but when I called the ROW office I learned it is. Bridge work apparently, bet it takes months...booo!

Riding home last night I went passed a permanent travellers camp (oxymoron?) going by a parked up fairground lorry I noticed a puddle up ahead, about 0.25 seconds before I hit it I realised it was not water but oil, a bloody great stream of the stuff from under the truck across the whole road. I got covered, tyres, frame, clothing, lights and yep brakes. Cue swearathon. Managed not to brake all the way home and spent 20mins trying to clean my bike, in the dark, tired and very pissed off. Will have a proper look tonight but I reckon brake pads will be screwed.

Oh and that stupid woman (the politician, not Erin Gill) is getting on my tits, you can't win. If you disagree with her you are a tearaway lawless lycra lout, if you agree with her then you are helping divert attention away from the main cause of death and mayhem on the roads bad drivers and the laws inability to properly deter their behaviour.

Sithee latter cocker

Return leg of the darwen/rivi nightride exchange, Mr Sparkle and Paul came over to sample our trails, tho I'm sure they ridden most of them already. Si was ill and Johnnie cried off due to some football match or other so it was just me. A last minute change of meet point meant I was rushing to get there on time but i don't think they'd been waiting long. Straight into it and down through the quarry, bit of a harsh opener, I know I don't like riding down steep stuff till I've got warmed up. Mr Sparkle had a bit of a 'mare, on a steep chute his SPD wouldn't unclip he ended up stopped, leaning against the side of the chute having to take off his shoe to get it unclipped. Once sorted we carried on, a steady climb followed by fast loose decsent to smithills, bit too fast, I nearly overdid it on a few corners. Over to Barrow bridge and up the climb where Mr S and Paul shot off into the distance, when I'm on gears singlespeeders seem to effortlessly pull away and romp up climbs. At the top Paul assured me it wasn't effortless :-) 2 Lads and wildeswood then the steep climb up Old Rake where I finally decided trying to keep up with Mr S was a bad move. He opined it was karma for me dissappearing on the downs. At hole in the wall I told Mr S about the roadie incident on sunday, he then dropped me in much the same manner! Was getting dark so a brief stop to get lights on and off we went, drop to the farm, climb up the the res and lovely singletrack to finish and on the final drop Mr S and Paul finally relented and dropped their saddles, you know it makes sense lads!
Paul's Mrs had made some scrummy brownies so we chilled for a bit (literally) before going home, another good 'un.

Monday, 11 April 2011

It's awful, there's dry powdery stuff where all the mud used to be...

...and it turned my arms pink. That was Johnnies verdict of the trails when he went out sunday morning, and he was right.

What a fantastic weekend, saturday I embraced my cultural stereotypes, I sat shirtless in the garden, cremating lots of red meat on the BBQ and getting pissed. Excellent! We got some of Charlies toys out, stuck a big sheet of paper to the shed for him to crayon and paint (i've now got a multicoloured shed) and a big bucket of water for him to play with. We invited some family round and we had a brilliant afternoon, messing about and having a laugh. Charlie loved it and everytime he clapped his hands we all applauded which bemused him. Rough and tumble on the lawn, chatting with family, just a really nice day.

Sunday I got up late, mrs was going to her dads so I nipped out for a quick ride, scoping out a route for a night ride and avoiding rivi which would be rammed. Climbed up winter hill, did the climb up to 2 lads for the first time this year, easy with dry conditions, gears, suspension and a large oxygen debt. Flew down 2 lads and wildes back up the rake and on to hole in the wall. Just as I got there a guy on an mtb wearing LRC roadie gear arrived, I asked him if he was taking a holiday from tarmac (yes) and I said it was too nice for following cars anyway (ahaha) this must have hit a nerve as he then completely trashed me on the climb. Bit of a stutter when he failed to climb out of the stream crossing and I caught up but then he put the power down, he had a good 30m on me by the time he hit the top. First time I've been humiliated like that in a long while. On winter hill the res looked superb, the grass looked orange and the water was purple, amazing. Was gonna go for ice cream at brian hey farm but the queue was a good 30 or 40 strong so I went and did san marino instead, at the end of which I had to trow myself to the ground and soak it all in, amazing weather, superb trails, just everything really. Admittedly my spazzed out calves/thighs may have had something to do with the lying down part. Got home just as my mrs parked up, superb timing. Had to have a cold bath, my leg muscles and joints were really burning, not too bad today but having a rest anyway.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Fred you lying git

Switched the TV on last night just intime to see a jovial weatherman tell us it'll be sunny tomorrow and the rest of the week (woohoo) what he omitted to say was "it's gonna piss down all night and you'll get ruddy filthy riding to work tomorrow". I'm dissappointed Fred and so are the cleaners at work. I've watched last weeks buff trails slowly degenerated into winter status.
Went up to Darwen again lastnight and Mr Sparkle showed us some more of his local trails, him, me and Paul on SS, Johnnie and Si on gears, this meant we split up on climbs a lot but no biggy. I knew most of the trails but we did them the opposite direction and the new stuff was rather good. Mr S had planned the route to showcase the downs and it certainly did, a hilly 12miler, good stuff. Mr S knows how to cater for riders too, hosepipe to clean off the bikes (ok honeymoon period not quite over thats 2 washes for my new bike in as many days) tea and (heaven) home made fruit cake which I had more than my fair share of - apologies. Excellent.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Not a bad weekend, saturday I took Charlie shopping for mothers day stuff, we had a mooch round town and did the big shop. We chilled out in the afternoon while his mum went out shopping, then I went out for bit of a ride. I met up with Johnny on winter hill did some trails up there, but got a "come home now" text, Charlie had kicked off when I left and hadn't stopped, so I had to cut it short. I flew home in a blur of undergeared spinning legs only to find a happy smiling Charlie once home, thanks son. I noticed a spot of blood on my calf under some mud, hmm don't remember hitting anything. Sunday woke up with a red blotch on my leg and some swelling hmmm, doubt it's a tick bite but it's got me a little worried.
Nipped up to my mums on the road bike and got a few miles in after. On chorley new road a roadie went passed heading in the opposite direction, he shouted over a greeting, a mile or so later I turned back (I'd decided to save my legs for commuting) A bit later I passed the same guy at a junction, I'd got to lights just as they changed so flew passed him, he chased, I was bimbling so he soon caught me. I said Hi as he went passed but nowt, just stoney silence as he dropped me - hmm must have had his raceface on.
Despite having a lie in and getting out on the bike I was still grumpy, getting dead stroppy when I made mistakes, dunno what was up with me. Moody bugger, even more so when after letting Charlie mess about with my camelbak bladder he dragged it off the kitchen worktop and it burst, yep thanks again, my fault tho, eejit.
Commuted in xc again this morning despite the mud and forecast rain, honeymoon period is over now, the blinglespeed is doing the job it was specced for - getting dragged through the muck.