Friday, 30 March 2012

Egos writing cheques...

Another big plan to do a big ride let down by my feeble body. Monday was a little tough after Sundays exertions, ride to work, 5 aside, ride home I was pooped. Rest Tuesday, no-one out for weds night ride so howabout ride to work then ride straight to rivi, up winter hill over to darwen, big miles? Nope. I had to call home for my camelbak for one thing, doh. Commute was hard going, I've temporarily got heavier tyres on my etsx, well over a pound extra I reckon, suspension seemed too soft again but worst of all gears. First time I've ridden in to work xc with gears since July*, what a load of old faff they are (specially gears that need some TLC) up down up down all the bloody time, SS rocks for this route. On the way home I realised I had problems, legs were fried, I'm having trouble getting back into the routine of 4 commutes a week, football and weekend ride. Got home and nearly didn't leave but I just couldn't waste a perfect evening so ate half a pound of pick n mix** rehydrated and set off, slooooowly. Up to burnt edge met these long haired hippies
Get a haircut! Spotted various burnt moorland evidence of "numpties out in the sun" crawled up to 2 lads, ripped down there then halfway down wildes across to montcliffe back up to georges lane and home via barrow bridge. Short and sweet, best I could manage. Yesterdays commute was a slog, this morning felt a little easier but only coz I went so slow, building up fitness/endurance is slow going.

Nice couple of weeks but weather seems to be waning for easter :-(

*these are the kind of facts you can pluck out of the ether when you have a ride diary
**Mates wedding reception had a big pick n mix counter, still loads left at closing so I got myself a big bag of goodies for mid ride replenishment.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sun, sex, suspension and scary corners.

How nice is this weather eh? Fan-bloody-tastic, I think this is our summer so you better make the most of it. I set a fine example by going to a wedding reception friday night and sleeping most of saturday day and spending the rest indoors at my mums. Ho hum, sunday would be different, sunday I had big plans for big rides. As it happened I fell into a bit of a slump, dunno why, just moped around saturday night, fired up the PC and spent most of the night trying to improve my K:D ratio. So sunday morning I wasn't fired up for riding at all, me and charlie had a play in the garden on our bikes, I found a problem with the suspension on my new purchase* which put me into even more of a downer. Fantastic weather, I'd got a pass out but just couldn't be arsed going out. About 3 I pulled myself together grabbed the etsx and stormed up to winter hill. 5mins in I realised my shock had lost pressure and I was at 50% sag just sat on the bike, but knew that if I went back for a shock pump I'd never get out again so I carried bob-ily on. Grrr you don't get these problems with hardtails! Up on burnt edge I collared another biker and he did indeed have a shock pump I could use (I'd only lost 5psi! put 10 in just to be sure) we had a chat, Frank rides the A6 from swinton to bolton then up rivi and back again, wow bit of a trek that. I said I'd mail him my xc commute route, should be more fun than the A6.

Wanted to get maximum hillage in and still be back for kids bath time so down 2 lads and wildeswood, both fast and almost completely dry, then back up wildes. Saw a couple getting jiggy at the side of the trail just below georges lane, as I passed I shouted "nice day for it" I got no response, but the guys hearing would have been muffled and the lady seemed to have other things on her mind. Up hole in the wall and over to san marino, flew down there no dramas, then spun around and rode back up (not very quickly) to do the trail down to the shooting hut. Climbed up to the res and did lowey's singletrack I did start to ride the alternate route towards egg hillock to see where that went but it was still pretty moist so turned back, the main trail was firm but needs another week or so of sun to get back to tip top condition. Got to "The Corner" and made the mistake of checking out the line first, this quite often causes me to jib out. Could see the line, keep right start to turn at the dog turd, aim straight down the centre of the slight gulley between the rocks. Had a bit of a mental wobble but manned up and chucked myself at it, off the brakes, turn in, instant acceleration, clatter over the rocks then grab handfuls of brake before the left hander. Phew, buzzing. Up to and down through the quarry, up horrocks fold and home via smithills, sharples and astley bridge.
Excellent ride and still plenty of time for more playing in the garden with the kids.

Could have been better if I'd got myself sorted but still a nice weekend.

*hopefully now dealt with

Friday, 23 March 2012

Lee Quarry try out

I've got myself a new frame and forks to replace the heckler, swapped the bits off my mmmbop to build it up and make sure it's upto the job before I dismantle old faithful. I figured a blast round LQ to see how it handles would be just the ticket. Met Johnnie at the car park and we rode up, nice night, clear so pretty cold but still and nice views of the stars and jupiter and saturn. Not got shock pressures sorted yet but climbing felt OK, neutral I guess is the description. It doesn't stiffen up like the heckler does but then again it wasn't bobbing about all over the shop either. Got a little lost in the dark but eventually found the steep roll in and around to the 3 drops then over to the play area. I was beginning to think new bike, unfamiliar trails (it's been a while) and nightriding as a total package was maybe a bit much. Did the big bermed red run a few times, a little gingerly at first but soon started to get into the flow, forgot how good this is. Bombing into the dips flying up the other side hunkered down on your bike and looking up to spot your line on the berm above you! Brilliant. Johnnie's lights were giving him grief switching on and off randomly but fortunately they settled down as we did the rest of the red lap, down the ginnel and onto the jumpy bottom section, good fun, seems to have got more wiggly after the tabletops but could just be riding it in the dark. Back round for another go I was starting to get a bit more comfy on the bike, forks didn't feel as smooth as the back end but by the end of the night the zipties said both had hit full travel, the reds pretty tame so it looks like I'll have to dabble with air pressures some more but the hecklers pretty squishy too. 2nd run was hitting lines a bit quicker, it was getting late so we rushed round and bombed back down to the cars. Nice little night time run.

Overall I'm happy so far, certainly a lot lighter, but need to test it somewhere steep and loose before trusting it down nan bield or similar. Weirdly that night I dreamt I went out on my heckler but someone robbed it and I spent the rest of the dream trying to find it, seems that subconsciously I'm already having partum issues about it.....oh dear.

No pics and not a finished product yet anyway so you'll have to wait.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ch ch ch changes

Weekends used to be about going out getting drunk full english recovery, maybe mooch round town and a big ride on sunday, oh how things change.
Friday night get home feed kids
Hungry son?

Saturday amuse ourselves while mum shops

Sunday we do the big shop while mum has a lie in (it is mothersday after all)

Admittedly drunkeness and riding will form a large part of next weekend :-)

ex see at last

Ooh first offroad commute of the year on friday, marvelous, everywhere starting to dry out and solid lines forming through the trails carnage left by winter, the epitome of spring (in my mind anyway)
How do these lines appear anyway? Do tyres just squash the water out of the earth and solidify it? Can I get one of those whackers road builders use and batter the whole of my commute into submission? Good stuff anyway, on my way home I thought i'd check out a bit of trail I'd seen from the train, turns out its a bit of a road to nowhere, nicely gravelled canal towpath, might have been useful but there's an untreated mudbath at one end and the other dumps you on an industrial estate in the middle of salford. Also tried a bit of trail blazing at ringley wood but that went nowhere either. Ho hum, they can't all be winners.

Don't remember much rain over the weekend but it was a whole lot wetter this morning and bloody cold, picturesque tho, low sun, golden light, mist, lovely.
tho that's probably not the best pic. I also saw 3 deer, couple of canadian geese, a heron, a rabbit and loadsa squirrels. Singletrack, views, wildlife, commuting, I could get used to this.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Not right but it's ok

So my chest still isn't right, slogged my way up snowdon and on monday I was feeling the same as I have the past few days, chesty cough. I ride into work tuesday and my co-workers have to put up with a bob fleming soundtrack. Hmm. Taking it nice and easy(ish) on my road bike, nice weather good to be out, commuting by train was doing my head in (and costing £30 a week) so I'll stick to light biking duties.
Riding down the dual carriage way this morning a driver came passed and beeped at me so I gave him a cheery wave and blew him a kiss, either he wanted to reciprocate or he didn't appreciate this and wanted to have a word whatever the reason he slowed right down and I guess considered stopping. This could well have made him a hypocrite, presumably he was moaning about me taking up a lane whilst not travelling fast enough (in his opinion), either way he had a think then sped off. If you're going to get upset about waves and blown kisses i think you need to chill out a bit more.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Snowdon swan song?

I missed snowdon last year and Johnnie said it was just my thing, "can't ride up can't ride down" so despite my chest still being a mess I went anyway. I'm planning to retire my ageing heckler this year so figured this would be a perfect send off. Si chauffeured us up there we met up in the car park, drooled over Tony's new bling carbon nomad, deliberated about getting myself a saturday job in a bike shop to discount my habit and eventually we set off. I coughed and spluttered my way up the start of the rangers path, we turned off and pushed up Bwlch Maesgwm. Graham promised me today's ride would be steep, rocky, loose, dangerous and altogether disconcertingly sexually alluring to me (in his own inimitable style of prose). The first descent was 3' wide trail, fast, a few twists and lots of water bars to jump. They all seemed to have nice little kickers to help you over. Unfortunately Toss flatted so we waited halfway down while he fixed and on we went, next section was a bit trickier, stone pitch and not quite so helpful waterbars. Toss (and Matt I think) flatted again so we waited at the bottom.
Next we cut across to the Llanberis path, the long hard slog began. Started off tantalisingly rideable, I managed brief glimpses of inspiration, the strength and technique were there but I soon ran out of puff and regularly had to stop for a breather. We struggled on, mainly riding, to the halfway house and had a bit of a rest, Tony warned the rest would be mostly pushing. He was right, I started using his bike carrying technique and it is quite good, could do with some padding on my downtube tho. The slog went on and on, silence descended as we all trudged upwards in our own little worlds of pain. We'd been under or in low cloud all morning and on one particularly nasty stepped section just before Clogwyn station the blue sky and sun saw fit to shine through, "wahey blue sky" was soon appended with "what the ~@!% is that?!" as the full enormity of snowdon reared out of the cloud to our right. Oh dear. Quick breather at the tunnel and everyone was disappearing to check out the view at the other side, I finally went through to have a butchers and wow, full on inversion, the llanberis pass valley was full of cloud, the nearby peaks rising out of the mist and with the sun right behind us we got a rather fantastic Brocken Spectre (no I didn't know what one was either) One of the coolest views ever.
No trains running today so we used to train line to ease out the terrain and gradient, nice easy (ish) push and sometimes ride in the glorious sunshine. Eventually we climbed the last of the steps to the peak, 1085 metres up. Fantastic view up there, scenery wasn't bad either. Bit of a rest and everyone had a quick trip to the top then we kitted up for a 5mile 3100ft descent, elbow and knee pads seemed de rigueur so I was feeling a little under dressed but with fingers crossed we set off. Steps and fixed (big) rocks to start, walkers looking at us in good natured (i think) bemusement. Made it down to the train line with a grin wielded to my face. Brilliant. Some had chosen the more sedate train line route but that was the last of the easy options. Next was faster bit rocky bit loose, flew down picked up a big rock strike on my shin. Kept getting close to Tony's 2 mates despite leaving a decent gap between us when we set off. Another re-group the onto VERY loose rockageddon, Having riders infront of me was a bit new to me and I ended up just blatting into stuff less cautiously than usual (well they'd made it ok hadn't they? no need to look before leaping then) couple of times I was right on the ragged edge, realising mid corner/drop/buckaroo that stacking was a very near possibility then riding it out giggling like an excited toddler. What a blast! I headed out first on the next section, more of the same, I stopped at a switchback further down for a regroup but Nick blasted passed so I set off again, we both piled into the next one, Nick binned it but I managed to sneak passed around him, Tony had a proper OTB there, dunno how everyone else managed. I was beaming, I had cleaned everything so far but it wasn't to last I'm afraid, just above Llyn Ffynnon y gwas (The Welsh really don't like vowels much do they?) I mucked up a proper dodgy section, managed to stop upright thankfully. Tony's gang had a couple of goes and Keith (I think) cleaned it and the next bit but my bottle had gone, the adrenaline had peaked and was now in decline and I was getting my sensible head back on, so I passed. At the next regroup I noticed my rear disc was wrecked, must have it a rock somewhere and if not technically taco'ed then it certainly had an air of poppadom-ness about it. A few people had a go at bending it back but the alloy carrier was cracking and the wheel would just about go round so I just kept on. Trail was back to smoothish 3' wide hardpack winding it's way down the hillside, fast and flowy. Si flatted and we got a bit behind fixing that. We set off with an empty trail and a group to catch infront of us, woohoo. I nailed it, flying round corners and jumping waterbars, weeeeeeee. Coming down onesection there was a dip and I couldn't see where the trail went, presumably a left/right jink, I launched off the lip then noticed the switchback immediately ahead whoops so that's where the trail went. Slam on on landing, managed to not overshoot too far, back on trail and off we go again and nearly did the same at the next hairpin :-)
Got to the bottom buzzing, only the second "proper" ride and already a contender for ride of the year. Heckler was amazing as usual, climbs, corners, jumps, soaks up rocks, hits lightspeed, gets down/over/through the tech stuff, just feels ace all round, love it to bits. Can I really retire it?

Lowey has pics.
Apologies for the verbosity, I was reliving it whilst writing and it really was very, very good.

Friday, 2 March 2012

You checking out my stroke?

Some right nobs about on the roads this week. Coming home tuesday I hear a beep, I look round and some bloke in a car has honked cause there's a cyclist who has the temerity to over take me while he wants to speed passed, I gave him the finger. Driver slowed and looked like pulling in for an argument then must have realised he didn't fancy 2v1 even if we were pansy arse cyclists and accelerated away. Had a chat with the rider checked he was overtaking safely and didn't swerve out (yes and no) Turns out this guy has seen me several times (i only remember once) and recognises me from my distinctive pedal stroke, my right knee wobbles a bit as I put down the power, indicative of a bad knee injury apparently. First I've heard of it. Paul I think he said, nice bike Viva SS, danish I think, similar price to my pompino but looks much nicer.
Short ride with Johnnie weds night, he wasn't up for much and my chest has been getting worse again so a short run up rivi and 2 lads drop down to the school and I couldn't convince him to ride back up bastard climb so back to the car. Slippy, fun, quite a few peeps about again now.

Chests buggered properly now so resting, grumble grumble.