Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Donk airways flight 20812

Final call for boarding. We went back to llandegla yesterday, first time for a while and I probably spent more time in the air yesterday than the last 12months combined riding (admittedly only about an inch off the ground). The day did not start well, lots and lots of rain and lots and lots of traffic, took us ages to get there but atleast the rain had stopped by the time we parked up. Quick run up to the practice section, did the drop off line, we regrouped at the top and I suggested another run, this time without the girly screams. Better. Onto the (little) jump line which we rode and failed to get any proper air on but did get our wheels off the ground. I followed johnnie up the boardwalk, he stopped when he saw the proper tight corner unfortunately a bad place to stop with me 3feet from his back wheel, stalled couldn't unclip fell off the boardwalk, just managed to unclip and land on my feet. Nice start. Burk then did the boardwalk the other way round, bricked it on the entry slowed down too much and his back wheel slipped down the berm but he made it round, phew. Nice start. Went over to the freeride section, did a slow run to scope it out, some table tops with rocks/logs on the top to "incentivise" you to jump them but still rollable. Burk was in lead and surprisingly took the northshore line, some twisty turny boardwalk, round rocks, over fallen trees lovely, just 2 sharp turns where you weren't sure if the rear tyre would stay on, on the right hander I hopped the back end round ok, on the left hander I didn't feel confident enough so just held my breath/shut my eyes and hoped - squeaky bum time. Couple of blind crests on the last bit so we limped back to the start - nothing to stress about will go for it next time. 15minutes in and we were already hyped up on adrenaline and we'd all had a few scares each. The red route out is still a trek but it's an ok warm up I guess, the rollercoaster kicks off the singletrack and the yellow pine jumps but the rest is a bit mleh until you get to snowdon view, now we're talking. Wiggly bits then over to parallel universe, jumps for people who can't jump, brilliant, step ups, step downs,. table tops, very shallow double, love it. Headed back up the fire road to snowdon view and did big jim's this time, swoopy singletrack and some rollers and berms, nice. Drop shore then my favourite bit "dave the fox" nice a flowy hardly have to pedal or brake, enough rollers to pump and berms to keep your speed, weeeeeee. Up badgers then yep back to snowdon view and did it all again. Spot of lunch then on we go, JJs jumps were fun, I remembered there was a double jump I had trouble with last time so put it in a decent gear and pedalled like mad saw a double or table top lined up for the double as I got close I realised they were BIG doubles, too late to change line hit and hope, woosh, got a bit out of shape in the air but landed ok. Next up was B line, brand new to us, 2 (out of 3) points for difficulty and described as "large", hmm. Drop/roll onto boardwalk quite wide and you can pick up speed got some air off the lip and roller then jumped off the end, this is fun, jump jump berm, woohoo, then loads more jumps like parallel universe with a rock frosting penalty if you don't make the jump. Brilliant stuff, I was firing ito stuff pretty fast then a forum quote came to mind something about people who can't jump riding the new stuff blind and crashing their brains out, oops, I reigned it in a little but sure enough most of it was fairly consequence free, one step up was a bit hairy, as it drops away pretty steeply on the far side, if you over do it on the launch you could end up a long way from the ground. Ha dot go back for another go, faster this time, nearly hit the tree on the drop off the boardwalk but managed to do the rest with a big grin slapped on my mush. Down some more, one section before the fire road there was a quick succession of tabletops, I got to the fireroad and could hear behind me "OooohshhhhT!" "OooohshhhhT!" "OooohshhhhT!" "OooohshhhhT!" as Johnnie hit each one :-) Bit more down then a lot of up/down trails. The new red route to the cafe has changed a lot, some tough steep climbs and some nice singletrack, was wishing for a dropper seatpost along there and was getting very tired. Again some red/black confusion, after tear arsing round the black runs on massive berms no problem you then get onto the red which you can pick up and hold speed quite easily then you get to a wiggly section with no berms and nearly crash. No berms so keeping on course is harder than riding the black, bit strange. Anyway keep the speed down a bit and it's a nice trail, the red would make a great XC blast. Bit of confusion near the end, needs a couple more signposts really but got back only to find the cafe shut! Gutted. There were a couple of section we didn't do, the twins/triplets, double drop rock and one of the freeride lines but we were knackered so another time. The new stuff is really good and if you take the fire road shortcuts you can do a lot of the fun wiggly jumpy stuff without pedalling far. I suggest you give it a go.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Not the 3 towers

Sunday 12:30 Brimmed my camelbak this was to be a 3litre ride, was supposed to be an early start but my mrs' impromptu upgrade from couple of drinks with a mate to full on night out meant I'd better let her have a lie in if I valued my riding time :-) Weather was overcast but warm, perfect for the 3 towers compendium which I still haven't completed yet. Nice fast pace up brunt edge, feeling fast, dropped down from 2lads into rain, hmm, did the rooty wildes wood line and the rain started properly. Bugger. Looked like the rain had set in for good over rivi so I sacked off the pike and rode back up to winter hill to see what the other side of the hill looked like. Headwind and drizzle up hole in the wall, grrr. Near the top I got that "out in the rain playing silly buggers" feeling and a smile crept onto my face soon washed off by even heavier rain and that sun tan lotion (that seemed a good idea less than an hour ago) running into my eyes. Got to the top of san marino the other side of the hill was just as bad, looked back to see the sky clear and sunny over rivi, ****socks! Went down san marino anyway, someone has kindly spray painted the best line, dunno what event has been on, got down OK but now covered in mud. Down the road and across belmont res, over WW to tockholes woods, where I saw a guy looking like a cross between a character out of Skrim and someone out of a Kiss video. Black leather and polished steel ensemble with black and white painted face, oh yeah and a sword. Hmm, bit further on was a guy walking down the trail in roman centurion type outfit and a pike and just at the top were two groups of people in various armour and armed with all sorts of medieval pointy-ness marching at each other seemingly getting ready to rumble. At our current speeds I'd be trying to ride passed them just as it all kicked off, so I sped up "scuse me, coming through", bizarre, might have said something about grown men (and women!) playing in the woods then that phrase about glass houses popped into my head. Darwen hill turned into a bit of a grind, headwinds damp conditions, the rocky singletrack that I normally enjoy I was slipping all over the shop, upto the tower, nice fast downhill into darwen perked me up but the climb up through whitehall onto the A666 had me in the doldrums again. The tandem of wet feet and hands has always demoralised me and I was considering bailing out. The sun was coming out and I remembered I had some spare gloves so stopped ate my fig rolls put on my dry gloves and set off again a new man (with squelchy feet) Down through edge fold and on up the school lane and crowthorne climbs, with the sun on my back and nice views they were dispatched pretty easily. Passed the bodyfarm and round to peel tower I found some form, and kept the speed up. Twiddled up the steep climb to the tower down the steps back up the climb and down the cheeky track. Good stuff, pedalled hard back to the bodyfarm, sped back to entwistle, round turton res, along the roller coaster, passed turton tower, through the golf course and dunscar, lowey's private singletrack (mud bath) and just for old time sakes I went up agony hill the standout feature from my school XC course, not quite as agonising as it was at school (when I was a big jessie) but was hardwork with tired legs. Back home though hall ith wood and the valley, seeing more destroyed trails, weather really has taken it's toll the last couple of years. So no 3 towers but not too shabby after all, first time I've cracked 40miles XC this year, a commendable amount of climbing too (6750ft) bit achey today.


Big day out, Johnnies return to nan bield, said he wasn't nervous, me and burk certainly were when we loaded the bikes onto the bike rack and it rotated backwards alarmingly, before reaching the motorway the carrier had scraped the road a couple of times and the whole lot was swaying quite a lot, my bike was last on so first to hit the tarmac in any disaster, I had to stop myself looking back. Johnnie was confident it'd be fine and to be fair he was proved right, he also figured out the problem was a missing bolt (gulp!)
Parked at kentmere it was already roasting hot, nice easy climb up Stile end and then a trickier than I remember drop into longsleddale some off camber rutted rock slabs, cheeky.

Burk had a flat on the faster lower section so we sat in the sun while he fixed it, set off and 10 seconds later I heard "woaaaah" burk had flatted again and this time shredded his tyre, 10cm tear in the sidewall, oops. Bit of bodging got him on his way (back to the car)

Apparently this only lasted 20mins but he rewrapped it and it got him back to the car. Me and Johnnie carried on, the nice easy(ish) road up to gatesgarth has been trashed by rain/water, pretty unrideable even before it gets steep.

So we did a bit of pushing rode some of the cobbled section and I finally managed to clean a small section just before the plateau. We did the final steep push up to the top of gatesgarth but mindful of how long it had taken, what a ballache the NB climb is and Burk waiting at the car tugging on our conscience we decided to cut across harter fell to NB instead of dropping down to haweswater. More pushing, bit more riding and the views just got better and better as we climbed, fantastic day.

I was getting a little apprehensive as we approached NB but in the meantime the drop off harter fell had my concentration, proper technical. Reckon I rode about three quarters of it and after that NB was a walk in the park. Johnnie crashed here bigtime a few years back, bit of concussion, amnesia, collecting a facial scar and putting me right off my line with all the blood. As we rode down I was shouting "was it this corner?" and a few seconds later I'd hear johnnie behind me "nope", "this one?" "no" "this one?" "no" "this one?" "yeah, oh ****!" Yep he crashed again, fortunately he dismounted and landed safely, I went back up to talk him through it. Despite not worrying about it previously when he actually got to the corner of death he had gotten very nervous, this was a big thing after all. Tight switchback with a big rock on it to screw up your line, instead of trying to avoid the rock I suggested making it part of the line and using it to get round the corner and we managed to go from this

to this

(dunno why it's out of focus)
Success! Good stuff, johnnie was well made up. We kept on going, Johnnie had a bit of an off on a very dodgy water bar, I had a crash on a bland none de-script bit of trail, lost concentration and my front wheel just dropped off the edge of the trail landing me on my face, damn. The drop down to hallow bank quarter is great, nice and technical with some steep steps, I really enjoyed it, happy that he'd conquered what he came to do Johnnie was happy to walk the dodgier sections but he could not believe how far it was from the foot of NB back to kentmere, when he did this post crash he thought it was switchbacks 5mins of trail then onto the road, forgetting about the 3miles or so of trail he had ridden, well blunt force trauma will do that to your memory. Got back to the car to find burk sunning himself, bit miffed at wasting a day, might pack a spare tyre next time :-) I managed to destroy another bashguard somewhere along the way too. Only 11 miles but a really fun ride

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Peak performance

Was pencilled in to do a lakes ride but my chauffeur didn't fancy it so we hit the peaks instead, think I've ridden the peaks more than the lakes so far this year. Parked up on rushup edge again but this time headed down to roych clough, slightly dodgy moment when a rock my arse went skyward just as I was riding off a drop but made it down OK and for the first time cleaned the climb out, I've normally got quite a few miles in my legs by the time I tackle this, as did Johnnie chapeu to us. Another mtber passed us on the way to mount famine and we did a bit of back and forth through gates. Got chatting at the turn off to coldwell clough, Steve was briefly going the same way as us so we did the coldwell descent and he talked us into finishing the descent to kinder road. We were headed for Jacobs and Steve decided he'd join us and showed us a shortcut (which wasn't actually there but hey ho) We chatted climbing up the grassy hill by kinder res and got to oaken clough having bypassed most of the horrible rocky climb, result.

I've never ridden down jacobs ladder so this was new, of course we were swapping crash horror stories on the approach to this big rocky downhill but we managed not to jinx ourselves or  make each other so nervous that we crashed. We all made it down smiling, not bad at all, not as awesome a descent as it is a climb, but it's a pleasurable way of losing some altitude. Gentle coast into edale then the climb to hollins cross, a stupid mistake caused me to dab about 3/4ers of the way up, pity reckoned I could have cleaned it. From here we took another new to me downhill into castleton, not the bit steep rocky descent oh no that's reserved for walkers instead we get a grassy rutted old thing, typical peaks trail designation. It actually got a bit tastier further down, not bad after all. Steve bought us a pint in castleton, was turning into a nice relaxed day of riding, weather was holding out too. Another trip up the broken road, stopped for a play, did the first drop, landed it OK but was so tense adue to having an audience I think I may have caused some internal damage. Johnnie looked at it but decided not to, me and Steve rode off Johnnie caught up telling us he had managed to sort his head out and rode the drop without an audience, good work. Another couple of drops ridden, Steve wasn't mentally prepared for playing silly buggers but said he was inspired and he'd be back with friends and a first aid kit. Next was the climb up rushup, Johnnie was suffering a bit by this point but I just kept going and he followed, about halfway up he asked if there was no easier way at which point Steve pointed to the (very flat) road below us, "yep, see that?" I normally keep quiet about bailout routes until we are atleast 3/4ers of the way up the final climb or someone shows indisputable signs of their will and spirit having been utterly crushed, but Johnnie stoically continued on, if he was cursing me under his breath I didn't hear :-)

Last descent down the roman road, laughs all round, Steve split there and we hit the traffic for a very slow drive home. Another good day from an iffy forecast, suntan topped up, marvellous.