Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Bank holiday weekend my arse, total washout. Weather was gash. Entire family had a cold, no time/mates/energy to go riding.  Did manage to go for a walk up rivi with my sister and 10week old nephew George on the Friday before the weekend weather set in. Charlie in nursery, me Alex strapped to me, George strapped to my sister, my mrs unencumbered but still struggling (lightweight). Nice walk, nice views built up an appetite and went to the blundell arms for the feast we had earnt. Unfortunately I went for posh nosh (chicken and chorizo on sweet potatoe mash), very nice but not much to it, I was covetously ogling my sister's gargantuan burger, chips and onion rings, can't remember what my mrs had but not enough for me to scavenge from :-0
Rest of weekend we hardly went out, swimming trip was fun but bad weather prevented the trip to the park afterwards. Yesterday we were going stir crazy so wrapped up and went to the park despite the rain, charlie was loving it slipping and sliding all over the climbing frame (giving us a few scares), completely oblivious to the worsening weather. Stood in the relentless rain, passing families were giving us "are you mental?" looks, we eventually dragged charlie home when it got silly wet.
Decided to take the longer quiet to work today, 5minutes in I hear someone revving up behind me, came flying passed close and beeped their horn. Tool! I wasn't in primary, was actually pretty close to the kerb, no other cars about, doesn't matter this wasn't a driver who had a grievance with my riding it was some nobber who likes to buzz cyclists. Black celica old style (sega rally shape) dick in the driving seat, keep an eye out. Other than that a reasonable ride in.

What tyres for....apples

I now know there's quite a few apple trees on my commute, one section of singletrack was covered in them last week, grip was erm interesting. Monday and tuesday were quiet commutes. Tuesday night me and Si did the usual, 2lads, wildeswood, ICR, pike, san marino quarries, smithills. Quite nice, load of faffage tho, Si broke a chain and my rocky mountain was creaking, has been for a while, I thought it was the shock mounts (now replaced) but nope, spent a 5 mins trying to narrow it down, bearings maybe, hmm. Anyway decent ride. Thursday was a bit of a miserable start, damp and foggy but halfway through my commute the sun came out and wow. In the woods, still a bit of mist about, sun shining through the trees, shafts of sunlight lighting up the mist, fantastic. This type of thing but more singletracky. Coming home was fun, took the scenic route and one section o ftrail was just a mass of vegetation, you'd have no idea there was a trail there at the start, hard going until I got onto a more frequently used section. The footbridge near me is still out of action, some people obviously have been climbing over the barrier as some generous soul has covered the barrier and nearby handholds with grease, again that doesn't sound like an official council actions to me. Calls to the ROW office later.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Eject, Eject! ...and more walking

A guy at work (roadie) told me a couple years ago about jumping from his bike in a dodgy moment, speed, loose corner and traffic were involved can't remember the exact details. I thought why the hell would you want to jump from your bike unless you'd already crashed? Now I kinda see his point.

Full turn out on friday, me, Burk, Si and Johnnie, weather was looking good, I'd planned to do a slightly shorter newlands route in the morning then something else later so we set off early. The climb up stoneycroft gill was ok to start, good and techy, not too steep. Then it got steeper, and rockier.

Johnnie seemed to be suffering from recent lack of riding and the excesses of the night before but we were all struggling to push up high moss. The climb to Sail summit is now switchbacked and slightly easier but still not doable by any of us on the day.

(you can see our route up way over to the left of the ridge)

Some hairy moments hiking over the scar but finally we were on Crag hill, 2700ft and a good 2000ft of down to come.

The first 400ft was a screamer, fast open with a few corners and drainage ditches to contend with, bit of a pedal then onto whiteless edge. Good stuff but altho I'd brought the big bike I'd frgotten to bring the corresponding cajones, a couple of dabs plus new shoes lead to having trouble getting clipped back in and riding on top the pedals instead of in them - sketchy. Some really nice bits along there. Whiteless pike was a fair bit more tech than I expected, a couple of bits I might have managed but I bottled it and a few bits I definitley didn't have the skill for. Some sketchy off piste moments too as I over cooked a corner or two.

Johnnies gnarr face

Halfway down I flatted, burk went on ahead Si and johnnie stopped with me. Just as I was ready to go again a family came passed telling us our mate had crashed but was ok. I set off, despite knowing a friend had already stacked I still went at it pretty hard, came over the crest of a hill and saw burk, about 5ft infront of me but 20ft down oops. Properly steep grass followed by insanely steep grass then rocks then back to properly steep. I braked hard but wasn't slowing down, back was trying to skid, much more pressure and the front would too, still way too fast, more front brake, oh dear. Just as front wheel started to go over the insanely steep bit I started to bin the bike. Fortunatley stabbing my foot down to the ground managed to stop me. Phew. Behind me Si and johnnie had similar trouble but made it safely. Burk had crested the hill, seen the slope, binned his bike on the grass but still slid along, his bike was headed for a drop at the side so had to grab it and try to slow himself down at the same time - with an appreciative audience :-) Cue lots of giggling at our lucky escapes. Don't do this downhill in the wet, it would be lethal! Still lots of steep grass down to go but we carried on a little more gingerly. Climb out of buttermere was ok to begin with but soon had us walking again. Johnnie was having difficulties walking, the fancy doohickey lacing systems on one of his boots had locked so he couldn't loosen it for walking, he was quite angry about this (did someone say hopping mad?) Si and burk had grim determination etched on their faces.

So far the lads weren't impressed, too much walking/carrying and too technical downs but now we had the newlands singletrack and I was quietly confident things would turn around. Sure enough 30 seconds in and I could hear whoops behind me. A 6" wide trail of loveliness, some bits opened out where it was steep and loose and then narrowed again, fast, twisty, turny and not a walker in sight superb. Grins all round at the bottom, my route choice vindicated. Trouble is it took us over 4 hours, everyone was knackered and I was on a time limit. No time for a second ride, certainly not skiddaw which was the original plan :-( Only 12 miles but 4500 ft of climbing in that, tough going. Postride refuel, vegan porkless pie or mansized proper version?

If you want pics of the downhill speak to lowey I can't be arsed stopping halfway to whip out the camera for shakey badly taken pics.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Fair weather cyclists

Friday was looking very grim and Si Johnnie and I didn't fancy driving all the way to the lakes to get rained on, plus I was never going to attempt the planned route in the rain, too rocky/technical, so we gibbed out, a local ride was mentioned but never really happened. This weekend was the STW north meets TJ ride at rivi, I made sure I was free on sunday (as did Si) but it got moved to saturday - oh well sounds like they had a good un. Me and Si decided to still do a local ride sunday, after all the wet weather I'd decided to SS it and had dismantled my geared bikes for various maintenance. Woke up sunday with a sore throat and my knees (which have been OK lately) were moaning a bit - excellent for a ss ride! Was actually ok riding tho, winter hill/san marino, heavens opened for a short spell, over to darwen via WWW, skipped the permanently wet tockholes downhill, found seom singletrack instead. Cafe stop tea and some very nice apple slice and custard, mmm. Up onto the hill, down the techy chute, steep climb to the tower and down into darwen on MrSparkles route. Heading back to bolton we ended up on some cheek near turton res where we mostly managed to avoid the sunday crowds (but were exceedingly polite to the [mostly miserable] walkers we did run into) From Bromley cross we used ginnels back streets and various less travelled routes to get back to moss bank park. Good ride, punishing SS ride, arms, legs and shoulders knackered, very tired. Nice and sunny for cleaning my bike when I got home - typical.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Tuesday night I went out for a quick spin with Si, had been commuting on road but had such a monster headwind monday and tuesday afternoon my legs were already battered. Met up at moss bank and headed up, golf course, holdens farm, 2 lads. Dropped down 2 lads, nice, wildeswood, even nicer. Decided for a change to go straight up the hill passed higher knoll farm, not tried this in yonks (school climb? commonwealth climb? can't remember what everyone else calls it), was quite dry so wasn't as bad as I thought, bet it's a bugger when wet, proper steep near the top. Up the rutted droppy climb to the pike, didn't clean that, something to work on in future. Down the steps, not done them for ages either, Si flatted on the corners just after but soon sorted that and on to ICR. On the section after the tarmac drop I could hear Si right up behind me so I started pushing it a bit, then I came to my senses, "chill Dave, you're on a hardtail stop trying to outrun him". Lots of rocks kicked up, knocked a chunk out of my crank - lucky it wasn't the frame, Si said quite a few rocks were getting flicked at him from my rear wheel - oops. Back up the hill and over to san marino. light was starting to fade but made it down pretty quick, calves were wreckin by the end, the last few little drops at the bottom jarred my legs as they started to seize up, ouch. Had to dig out our joystick backup lights for going through the quarry - sketchy, will need to bring proper lights next week I reckon. Climb up horrocks fold, drop through smithills, it was proper dark under the trees, ah tunnel vision nightriding, forgotten what it was like. Another good'un, no drama's, no mechanicals (Si's puncture apart), no bad conditions, just nice trails. Kebab on the way home - it's what emergency £5ers are for - mmm :-)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Me and burk headed up the lakes on friday, weather was looking iffy and as we parked up above coniston it was cloudy, cold and windy so I layered up. Down spoon hall was fun but after seeing chris crash last time I chickened out and unclipped on a few bits. Heading round the top of coniston we were warming up so shed some layers, then even more going up lawson park, hmm not putting on sun tan lotion may have been an error. We schlepped up lawson park, a grind but not bad. Parkamoor was excellent, nice and dry, rocky, grippy, fast, ace. We blitzed passed a family pushing bikes up and Burk said they looked in awe, seemingly impressed with speed over the rocks. apart from them the trails were deserted. The bridge from arklid farm to water yeat was closed, the farmer informed us it had been out since the '09 rains, he said "we've had to manage for 18months, you can manage a day". OK mr grumpy, a 5miles diversion didn't appeal so we found a "dangerous bridge - anglers only" foot bridge a bit further down the road and pushed through Birk Row farm. Why anglers only? maybe the locals don't like them :-)
A spot of lunch near houlker hall and across woodland fell managing no navigational errors this time. Push up to Troughton and then another grumpy local at Hole Beck cottages eventually restrained her dog but then shouted at us for nearly taking the obvious track instead of the not at all obvious bridleway passed the cottages. Got a bit lost on this climb but eventually popped out at broughton woods. During some minor faff a rider on a cube appeared just having done the road climb, quick chat I offered to show him through the woods but he wanted a rest and burk had already setoff so I went. Ridden this a few times but noticed on the map there's a section of singletrack I'd never ridden so we gave it a go, overgroan and a bit boggy at the moment. Also got attacked, an overhanging fern frond was hiding a pretty beefy bramble branch it caught in the crook of my ebow, ow. Back on the fireroad I starte dto pick the dozen or so thorns embedded in my arm, cube man caught up and joined us for the rest of the ride. He was at the end of a 2 week riding holiday, been upto scotland done all 7 stanes and worked his way down to the lakes riding most days. Not on his own tho, his GF was down in coniston busying herself while he rode, me and burk just exchanged looks, we'd never have got away with that with our respective partners, even before kids.
After the singletrack in the woods we climbed up natty bridge and on to walna scar, painful. Nearly lost a shoe by white pike when I went knee deep into the bog. Got to the quarries and without a rest (cube man's mrs was waiting) set off on the climb, ashamed to say I didn't even make it to the hairpins this time, got knocked off line and stopped, terrible effort. Walna scar down was brilliant as ever but they are in the middle of resurfacing it, Boooo! They've only done a small section from bottom of goatfoot crags at the moment, fast but silky smooth and boring as hell, hope they don't do much more. Bombed down to the car pushing the tyres to break away point on the fast gravel near the bottom, brilliant. Directed cubeman (who had done the downhill with saddle at full height - !) to spoon hall and set off for home with a quick stop at thrang crag wood for ice creams. I was (mildly) bloodied and (sun) burnt but a very good day.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Don't cross Cross Fell

Soo sounds like cross fell tried to kill lowey, well it certainly broke us. Tuesday I was still tired from sundays hillathon, by the time I met with Si I'd decided to bail early so we did loweys ST (cleared that corner again, on a HT this time - woot!) and the climb up horrocks fold then took the express tarmac all the way home. Rode in weds morning to get my shock mount sorted but rested thurs. Me and Burk parked up at Kirkland, bit of cloud but looking to clear up, plan was to ride up cross fell drop to garrigill, back via tynehead/troutbeck/dun fell and the downhill to blencarn. Start of the climb was OK, warm, trails in good nick, feeling ok, riding plenty. Been up this before but as we were in thick cloud that time none of it looked familiar. Got boggy and rocky by the old workings, pushing commenced, started feeling tired and when back on the bike my line choices were dodgy, Burk asked if I was feeling alright, I wasn't. Finally got to the start of the downhill, it clouded over and a headwind picked up boooo. Dropped to gregs hut, kept going, this "downhill" had a lot of up. I started grumbling (less than 2 hours in), Gavgas had said tynehead could be boggy, all the water around suggested t would be very boggy and the dun fell peaks looked high, so we started revising the route, down to garrigill and back up the same route. At long man hill we realised it would be boring straight gravel road all the way down to garrigill. Sack that off, turn back now was the decision. We got back up to to gregg's pretty quick so we had a look round, never been in a bothy before, spartan but welcome in nasty weather I guess. The cold cloudy trudge up to the top of cross fell was depressing, moaning at myself, should have rested more, shouldn't have ridden in on wednesday, should have gone to bed earlier, should have brought a lighter bike etc etc. On the top the sun finally came out and my mood improved, just the excellent downhill to go...if we could only find it, eventually we got on track dropped our saddles and set off. Boggy bit, rocks, boggy bit, rocks, boggy bit, 5 minutes in to the downhill our max speed was 5mph, hmmm. Finally got to drier ground with a gradient and woooooohooo. 5mins later I stopped to rest my aching hands and calves, burk pulled up behind me, our discs were blue, I was sure if we lay the bikes down they'd set fire to the grass. Tink tink tink as the discs cooled down, us giggling like idiots, as soon as we could we carried on. We hit a small grassy drop and I heard burk whoop like a kid, down into to a fern sided chute, nearly hit a sheep that appeared suddenly from the bushes, hit a couple of rutted muddy sections way too fast but mananged to hold on and got to the bottom completely pumped up on adrenaline, this downhill kicks ass, superb.
Gavgas suggested the route I'd planned didn't really "get the best out of the area", what he probably meant was "it's rubbish" and he'd be right. The proper version is 40miles ouch, loweys attempted version is a more reasonable 30 but I reckon the best bet is up the west side of cross fell, push across the top and then blencarn downhill and do 2 loops, that would be 17ish miles and 5000ft climbing and a shedload of grins, maybe a winner?