Thursday, 12 December 2013

Ooof! New trails

Si still has a crocked leg and Johnnie got roped into work last minute so out with the rollers, they normally only do 12miles or so, so figured I'd rush out up the usual route do 2lads or hole in the wall and drop to jolly crofters via acron. What a bloody idiot! Rollers do short rides but at speeds that tend to rip my legs off, I'm still recovering from a cold and I'm setting off about 20mins later than I should do, whoops. Flogged my guts out and topped out on matchmoor lane checked my watch, 6:30 bugger I'm late so straight back down the tarmac anyway. Met with the lads up georges and onto winterhill, Simon off like a bloody rocket, as me and Mike reached the top of hole in the wall Si's rear light could be seen bombing up the final straight, Ian and Gaz were gapping us too. Upto the mast and off the shoulder, slippery on the tops had me dabbing but I managed the chute ok. Down the cobbled road and across to Horden and up toward spittlers but we soon turned off for lead mines. Mike expected it to start sloppy but get better, it didn't, sloppy all the way down but boy it was fun, wheels slithering about all over just short of dumping you on your arse, just enough speed so as not to need much pedalling, big grins all round. Over to LMC and up the other side I was at the back but everyone else missed the turn so I was first to the start of the climb with a bunch of speed merchants behind me, eek! I hit it fast and kept going to the first gate but by that time my legs were toast and I knew I was in trouble. Over the fields on an unknown to me trail then onto some singletrack woohoo, more slippy trails, slither. Upto the airmen memorial cross and down some steps, Simon ahead cleared the lot, I was following Ian who stopped just at the bottom of the first big set so I had to stop and push back up taking an unwanted look down at the few steep step sections ahead, gulp. Never spend too long looking at steep stuff, you'll only psyche yourself out. Gaz and Mike went down so I took a deep breath and went for it, hit the first lot ok, the second lot were bigger, just approaching the point of no return I got one of those "I wouldn't normally ride this....but... **** it!" Let go of the brakes rolled in dropped behind the saddle and found myself sitting on my crudguard, saw some slippy looking wooden steps ahead, but I stayed loose and.....cleaned it. Phew, not often I scare myself on local trails, adrenaline pumping we set off for the lower barn. Wasn't looking forward to the climb upto georges lane and halfway up AICR I nearly popped a gel, legs properly fading. Cruised down georges and bombed into Acron, weeeee. Finally got to the Jolly crofters got a pint that lasted 3 minutes and a massive plate of fish and chips that I wolfed down. Leaving the pub with Mike and Gaz half an hour later ready to ride down through the golf course I felt like a new man, 30seconds of pedalling tho reminded me your legs don't repair themselves quite that quickly but I tried to hang on to Mikes back wheel. Dropped to barrow bridge left the lads, coasted home, got myself some pudding and an early(ish) night. Broken by the rollers again.


It is with sadness that I today formally announce the demise of a much loved friend. One of my fleet/quiver/stable* has shuffled off this mortal coil, the etsx is no more. Yep that creaking sound it had been suffering from for, oooh, ages, turned out to be terminal, crack in the seat tube, just a bit embarrassed at how long it took me to notice. It's not as tho I never wash my bike. Several years of solid performance, it has been my go to bike for long days in the saddle where distance rather than height has been the name of the game. Kielder 100, mary townley loop, dales rides, quite a few STW rides, lots of 3 towers loops and many other local rides. Wasn't very light, wasn't very surefooted on the downs but it was a good middle ground and the fastest (in a xc racer kinda way) mtb I've owned, I shall miss it.
Good times.

Nan Bield 14-11-2010
Nan bield winter ride
STW Swaledale ride 26-4-09
Swaledale, jeez was that really 4 years ago?
Clay Bank 4-6-09
Clay Bank 4-6-09

Happily RM have supplied me a new frame, not to look a gift horse in the mouth but it's got even more travel than the already overbiked etsx, I've already got a 5" and a 6" mtb so do I keep this 5andabit frame or flog it and buy a proper fast 29er? Hmmm shred or sell? Tear it up or trade it in? Rag it or retail it? (nobody say "mince or market?") Decisions, decisions.

*delete as appropriate, keep which ever you find most toe curlingly embarrassing ;-)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ambleside meander

Week before last weather was looking good so me and Johnnie planed a lakes trip. The weather men were lying again. Got there OK just cold to start, got geared up at Rothay bridge a robin turned up and living up to it's name tried to steal johnnies vegan flapjack, cheeky bleeder.

Climb up onto loughrigg fell was as harsh as ever, the downhill has been sanitised :-(

then we got a bit, ahem, "lost" and descended on FP into skelwith, probably won't bother again started out well but went a bit rubbish as did the weather, mist and light rain which continued for the rest of the day. Instead of climbing Arnside to Iron keld we went the back way, up the road to high cross/oxen fell and did the boat to iron keld and descended arnside with another cheeky option which again wasn't much cop, ah well.

Bit of trouble spotting the bridleway that loops down towards colwith then back up to hodges close (why does the OS map not resemble anything on the ground around hodges?) but got it and slipping and sliding on mud, wet leaves and greasy rocks we made our way passed the multitude of walkers obviously not put off by the weather (or they'd been taken in by the meteorologists same as us) Minced our way down through the slate quarry (johnnie very nearly crashing out, not sure how, styling it up of a little ramp I think) The we took a little detour. Inspired by the boggies pics we searched out cathedral cavern. Low ceiling cave to start led us to the large central bit, a scramble down very greasy rocks (my legs slid out from under me as I walked over to check out the "difficult bit". Once again I needed reminding of the oft stated fact that MTB shoes suck on wet rock.

Lunch in the cavern then over the ford to little langdale, johnnie pulled some shapes in sawreys wood

High close tarmac climb and loughrigg terrace to finish - which has also been sanitised but was mercifully fairly quiet on the walker front. Not far, not big, not dangerous (silly mistakes on both our parts not withstanding) and miserable weather but fun all the same.

Shallow grave

Met up with Si last night couple of weeks ago this post has been stuck in limbo for aaaaages, rode up barrow bridge and winter hill, 2lads approach is well boggy, will avoid for a while, the descent was slippy and some crosswind made the chute at the end intersting. Met Johnnie and did wildes rooty, slippy as hell nearly lost it in a big front wheel slide on the first corner, Si did the same, few more sketchy moments on the way down and Johnnie took a detour when it was obvious he couldn't make a corner so let the bike follow the alternate trail it already apparently preferred! Bit of exploring next try some new trails I figured, not great couple of short downs, a couple of scrambles up, the last of which I crested and my light lit up what looked ominously like a shallow grave, oh dear! Looked around, nope someone's building a downhill track, oh yeah! Pushed up past a berm and a jump and topped out, turned around and rode it, not a great berm, and ok jump, an even dodgier berm and oh that's it, ah well. Along a track that led to a road which Johnnie was convinced to be a dead end, we both thought it was the same road but we disagreed on where it ended up, turned out I was right it was commonwealth climb, not done it for ages, I wheezed up, Si and Johnnie took it a bit more leisurely. Over to do ICR, bit smoother than it has been for a while. Johnnie split there and me and Si took the fairly direct route back home descending the golf course to finish. Nice night.

Mmm nice!

Last Mondaycouple of mondays ago this post has been stuck in limbo for aaaaages commute was gorgeous, bit of frost, some low level mist, absolute calm, wide open blue skies, silence and not another soul around on the offroad sections.

Rode along the canal and just had to stop for snaps, frosted flora all around. There were shafts of sunlight shining between the trees, proper lovely, camera wouldn't pick them up tho :-( Stopped again near the remand centre to take pics, the tree opposite was bathed in the glorious golden morning light, as mr ferrantino said in one of his STW columns, it's different to evening light, just so. Anyway this tree, orange and yellow leaves, warm light, clear, silent day, I just looked on in awe. Then I noticed the leaves were constantly falling off with a gentle *flut* sound as they landed on the leaf strewn ground, one after the other,

I passed it last night and there's still loads of leaves on there, can't believe it's not completely denuded by now. Pretty cool moment all in all. Then I hit the crescent and had some knob in a corsa try to squeeze between me and the stationary traffic - whilst in a bus lane and then tailgating me when I took primary to dissuade him from trying again. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Making the most

Nipped out for a ride last sunday, right rigmarole actually getting out the door and when I finally did (in a foul mood) it started raining, not the overcast but clear/dry we'd had so far (and forecast) Grrr. Up barrow bridge singlespeed, ouch, got to scout road as the heavens opened so I dashed over to Bob Smithy's and hunkered down in the smoking shelter. Set off once it eased, over winter hill minced down hole in the wall, over to the pigeon tower, no sign of johnny, found some interesting mushrooms tho.

and mourned the state of my 3 ride old cranks

Still no Johnnie so I nipped up to the pike then back down georges where I finally found him with Nick. A quick catch up chat, Johnnie had gotten soaked in the monsoon, Nick was just finishing his ride. Down Wildes where we split me n Johnnie up to the mast, Nick broke his mech on the way home and had to be picked up by Jacqui (oops). By the mast the saturated Johnnie was freezing so he headed home, I without a dropper post and a carbon seatpost I didn't want to scratch went very veeeeerrrrry slowly down a fairly muddy san marino. WHere next, a bit short on time, hmmm try a quick loop around darwen tower. I sped off along witton weavers and up cartridge hill hyperventilating. Quick loop round the tower and down the access road which has a massive water bar now - beware. Pushed it hard around whitehall and up to ocean palace then along the road to Cadshaw, I manned up to doing the roller coaster (cleaned it too) along WWW again to turton tower and home, heavens opened about 2 miles from home. Not a great day, not great conditions but it'll do for me.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Shoot the runner

Managed to get out for a run last night, 4.6miles according to memory map, dunno how accurate that is tho, roughly 45mins so just under 10kph, no idea how good/bad that is for a none-runnner. Work mate is training for doing a marathon, Si and burk are both runners so thinking of getting into it a little more. Brownbacks (and pretty much every serious hill in the lakes) proved I need to up my cardio ability, hopefully some running will do that. Should be easy enough to grab shoes and do a 40-60 min run once a week but we shall see, 5aside has started up at work again so that should fill the slot, tend to be a bit irregular tho.

One note about brownbacks, I thought I'd started off too quick and managed to pace myself in later laps but according to timings it seems my laps were pretty consistent and the last lap included that guy crashing so that should have added time but it didn't so last lap may have been my fastest - looks like I just wasn't warmed up enough and took time to get into my stride.

Anyway legs are feeling battered today, bet I'm having trouble walking tomorrow.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Gibber? Bloody horrible commute yesterday, on the way home the heavens opened, I ducked under a bus shelter for a while but had to get going in time for night ride. Soon got offroad then pssss pssss pssss the sound of a punctured tyre, stood slowly methodically changing my tube (having got stung last week when despite checking the tyre for sharp objects I managed to miss a chunk of glass - double flat) in the rain, sparsely sheltered under a mostly denuded tree, I realised the shortcomings of my "it's only an hour commute, no need for waterproofs" strategy. Was pretty cold rain too, even after I got going again my knees and fingers were chilled and of course the usual wet feet. Got home kinda hoping to get out for the nightride but also fully prepared to jib if Johnnie or Si suggested it. Johnnie phoned he sounded only slightly more enthusiastic than me so I spoke to Si, when getting his bike out had found his front brake was a bit spongy, that was excuse enough, jib due to technical issues. The rest of the evening was dry - felt like a right soft git :-( will have to do some running tonight to make up for it.

Damn chilly this morning, autumn gear was only just coping, did have it's benefits tho, nice and clear day the irwell valley had a layer of mist in it, lovely, oh and I found my shower gel that I had dropped yesterday morning bonus!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Commuter tales

Welcome back to the slop. Autumn/winter-prelude is in full flow now, trails were underwater this morning, clock change meant lights were almost redundant, will be needing them soon tho. Not done any proper rides since brownbacks, just commuting and night rides. My mudguards were starting to clog up the other week, sticky mud building up but with the seemingly none stop rain we've had lately this is no longer a problem. Had a couple of proper soakings, you know, wring your gloves out and empty your boots when you get home stuff, still it's all good fun. Couple of flats led mo to fit new tyres so the worn front/bald back comedy tyre combo that had me sliding at every corner is now a thing of the past.

Ride with Johnnie last tuesday, he wasn't feeling too hot so we just did an easy ICR, up to the pike, 2 lads, wildeswood and called it a night. I called in at the Jolly Crofter to see if the rollers were getting their post ride pint in but no their usual tuesday night race session had ended much earlier. Not much else to report, enjoy the changing of the seasons and the lovely colours and smells, don't really go in for it myself, it's just the end of summer and the start of the grind through to spring (with hopefully a brief interlude of hard frost with clear skies midwinter).

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Sartorially ambitious

Long sleeve top, gillet and downhill gloves felt like a bad move by the time I hit the bottom of the street but as it turned out not too bad. Met Simon, up the golf course and burnt edge, 2 lads kicked off the downhill account and I was all over the place, mud and a different bike than I've gotten used to meant I struggled a bit, 7 weeks off the bike meant Si was rusty too. Rooty trail through the woods all the way down, along the backs and up school climb. Bit parky on top of rivi so no hanging about, dropped down OK, not as slippy as we'd expected, up hole in the wall and the road, was starting to get cold now and was proper chilled by the time I hit the bottom of san marino, my legs burning, fingers numb, good run down tho not bad condition again better than expected. My hands wouldn't warm up so donned my thicker gloves climbing scout rd, we chickened out of doing the quarry and another climb so went straight to the car park, proper stunk of weed must be some strong stuff about, and dropped into smithills. We split and I rode home, nice little run, most of the usual suspects trail-wise, decent ground conditions, clear night, quite mild temps lower down, more of these kinda night rides please.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

If you're not wearing a number it's not a race


Mr Sparkle had been complaining recently it was getting embarrassing standing on the singlespeed podium at brownbacks on his own. Hmm thought I, challenge accepted. The night before I'd been trying to find out if there were free entries when I spotted a tweet from mr S wondering about the course, brownbacks had responded #easiergearneeded. Don't like the sound of that. Lining up for entry I wasn't sure what categories to enter, the main man was passing by he said "you look like a racer, put him in racer" ok then. Went up for a practice loop, oh dear, climbing from the very bottom, straight up to the pump track, swing a left skirt the bottom of the skills area, down a gulley to the bottom of the 3 drop offs black run, up the stupid steep rocky climb, singletrack down to the skills area, up the left hand side downhill route to the flag at the start of the 3 runs, down the big bermed red run, cut across to the steep drop in to the new pump track across that left toward the lake swing a right to do some of the black run across some rock slabs back to the original pump track across to the cattle grid and down to the bottom. This was going to hurt, a lot.

Lined up at the start chatting to mr s who told me the guy in the grey shorts was silly quick, so 2 fast guys to race against, oh and look here comes a third. My guaranteed podium position was now gone and I was doubtful I could beat any of these guys, lets see shall we. Just me and silly quick fella in the racer group, the buzzer went and I set off at the back, better get used to it. I was blowing by the time I got to Graham's marshal point at the gulley, he shouted encouragement. Made a couple places back dropping down to the bottom of 3 drops lost em again on the climb, made a couple of places dropping to the pump track and extended my lead over them down from the cattle grid but not enough to stay ahead while I pushed up the 1st climb. Was dying by the time I got to the gulley again, just couldn't get my breath back, "who the **** signed me up for this ****?" Graham just laughed. I was having a bit of cat and mouse with a canondale racer and a Santa Cruz rider from a different category I think. It continued in a similar vein they would pass me on the hills I'd catch up on tight descents take them on open flats either by putting some power down or late braking/trickier line then increase lead on the next down and they'd pass me on the monster climb.

By the fourth lap I was starting to get to a manageable pace, we were catching some of the slower categories and the race leader lapped me. Was coping on some of the power climbs but still pushing on the bigger ones. I got the bell at the start of the 5th only another 20mins of pain, as the course looped around I could see the fourth man not far behind, so decided I had to finish in front, daft really cos he had a couple minutes on me anyway which he would get back at the time check so I'd already lost. Any jumped a place by jogging up the climb after the gulley, hard work getting up to the flag but 4th man was still not far behind, dropping the red run I had a guy from wallis cycles I think seem to remember he was a racer cat. Did the berm over to the steep drop in right behind him, going over he pump track I was wondering if taking the left line would have been quicker when wallis man got out of shape and nose dived into the backside of a double hitting his head on the top, ouch. Stopped to check he was ok and warn others, 4th man got the marshal's flag and helped with traffic. The first aiders showed up so I figured I was a spare part now so I kept going. Another quick drop from the cattle grid and I realised the finish was at the top so a slog back up the main climb, pushed the start then for the honour of singlespeeding i mounted up and rode up to finish and cower behind a van to keep out of the wind. Fourth man showed up and we chatted, I wondered how far behind me Mr S set off, turns out a long time, so even the few minutes before he finished, he still beat me. Wallis cycles guy got up and finished the race, good going.

So fourth out of four on the singlespeed front, oh hum, just waiting for the results to come out now see how far off the pace I was and whether I beat anyone in the racer class to reclaim a bit of self respect. I may be back, racing is kinda fun despite all the pain and I think I do need to push myself a bit more.

Day 5 Downhill day

Last day and no climbing involved, woohoo, van uplifts all day. Got kitted up at the top, rollers in team colours.

First run was Cobblers and it fair rattled the fillings out of my teeth, it's a path set from very round stones/pebbles, proper bouncy, rattling down behind Marco I was sure I'd flat, twisted and turned down was doing ok till a switchback with a drainage bar just after, clipped the bar and went down. Simon was impressed "nice to see we're all fallible" got to a regroup point, sniff ewe, sommat stinks, got someone to check my back, my clothes were clear but my pack had a smear of dog sh!t, dirty b*st*rds! Fortunately there was a Fuente so I could wash it. Bleurgh. Down to the village and back on the van. Junior joker next dusty fast start snaking down the hill then it got more technical, rocks and turns, seemed to go on a while, my legs were soon pumped. Twisting and turning between tight rocks heard a scrape from my left "brake disk?" (QR actually) then a couple corners later from my right "rear mech?" (Yes, not terminal tho) I caught up with Ian at a regroup, couldn't believe everyone made it down without mechanicals, tho Rob had taken a chunk out of his ankle from a pedal strike. Medic!

Can't remember the name of the next trail but we set off and Marco crashed on the first corner, whoops, didnt help my confidence, felt like I was on borrowed time as it was and that a big crash was imminent. Nearly got one too, front end went a few times on some off camber rock slabs, not as grippy as lakes/peak rock. Tim had an off too and ripped the hose from his reverb, just scuffed himself a little fortunately. Dropped into a village to do Janet street porter well rocky few switchbacks where Simon came a cropper behind me, quick regroup while he straightened himself out the. Woosh Marco took off, properly quick I tried to follow but was worried about what was round the next corner. Turns out the trail is perfect for railing built up corners, little rollers to get air off, almost trail centre-ish as soon as we hit the bottom I said I wanted another go but it was time for lunch, the van was waiting, a nice easy roll down to the river.

Nice chill out by the river munching chorizo and cheese bocadillos, some of the rollers fettling Tim's bike, rest of us sunbathing and chatting. Eventually it was time to pad up again, load the van and get ready for The Funnel of Love, started with the steps and switchbacks of Janet Street Porter, Simon rode the corner that got him without recognising it. We turned off and got into the groove, a long tight twisty gulley that Marco and pals have to groom every year after the winter rain. Nice run but I wasn't really flowing. At the bottom we regrouped and rode the river bed back to the lunch spot, crossing the river a few times (wet feet?! I can get that at home) we loaded up for the last run, the elephants tail. Bit of climbing got us to the top, above the valley Fondales nestles in, we could see the villages we'd been riding through earlier in the week. Group photo time.

Fondales is bottom left, Mecinilla and Mecina above it (start of back of bar to the left side, bottom of back of disco and carlos bar to the right side), the big one upper right is Pitres (back of disco start), I think it's Capileira just visible above that, Ferreirola bottom right.

Me, Mike, Gaz, Dom, Simon, Marco, Tim
We padded up beneath the trees, bit of trepidation due to the "one more run" effect and the lads were implying this was a nasty one. Set off and I tried in vain to keep Ian in sight, wasn't keeping my speed up, got to a point and the trail got vague just as I saw Ian a good way below me, whoops, wrong way turned around to see the corner I had missed, saw Simon approaching and shouted "TURN! THERE!" He said it worked brilliantly one of the best corners he'd done, right up there with the "what the hell are you doing Dave?" one on the first day, Gaz cleaned it too, I tucked in behind them, few more corners then "woah!" Si met some danglers and stopped dead on a switchback Gaz stalled and fell down the inside of the corner, overtaking at any cost, nice work Gaz ;-) Tim behind me nearly stalled/fell too but we got going again, couple of power climbs killed my legs off so was a bit behind Si and Gaz by the bottom, nice couple of drops down to the bridge and chill waiting for the rest, soaking up the final minutes of our time on the trail. A steep push out of the valley upto Fondales, a push to start but then Dom powered up the cobble/concrete section to the house, good work there!

Bikes to be packed and tea then out for a few beers, tho not many due to a very early start. Great holiday, good weather superb riding and the most injury/mechanical free I've been on. Nice work fells, hope I can join the rollers for another ciclo Montana adventure in the future!
stats dunno bit flaky, rough guess of 15miles with 6000ft of descending

Monday, 14 October 2013

Day 4 Enduro!

We'd had a nice rest on weds, a lie in, bit of fettling, lovely lunch and a chill out by the hotel pool up the road. Thursday was Enduro loop, we'd been warned this was a bit full on, one enormous climb, one big descent. We started at a village (after coffee stop obviously) a good way down the road past Orgiva. To begin we zigzagged up the pristine tarmac of the main road out of town, perfect road bike territory, we turned off up the quarry road, steeper, I was feeling good at the front with Simon, guide Matt and Dom, unfortunately halfway up the quarry rd I noticed my cranks were loose, don't think I'd loaded the bearings properly after weds fettle. Stop to tighten them then set off at the back with Rob and rearguard guide Ian. I only had a bottom gear of 22x32 tho so on the super steep tarmac soon started making my way through the group despite supposedly trying to rest my legs - should upgrade to 10speed on this big bike soon. Everyone else either had lower gears or were happy to spin a bit slower than me. The road turned to fire road but didn't ease in gradient, was mainly well packed down but needed some line choice to prevent bogging down in the loose stuff. Just as your thought your legs were gonna explode the trail started to zigzag, slightly easier gradient but battling the loose stuff on the corners (had to be really careful not to spin out or dig in at the front) got your heart rate back up to max, recover then another corner, as someone said natural interval training.

I'd been on my own through the switchbacks I caught Si, Gaz and Matt at a gate but had to fanny around with my cranks again (final time) so they rode off. I set off again climbing was bearable, came passed Matt whose head was bobbing, oops looked like he had blown, he'd been looking peaky in the van ride over here. Caught up with Si and Gaz as the trail bent right hugging the side of a valley, looking way over the other side and a long way above us we could see a trail. We all agreed that looked a bloody hard climb away and very likely to be our route. But for now we climbed our side of the valley guideless. I apologetically squeezed passed Si and Gaz citing my lack of gears Si of course could not help but take up the challenge and decided this was the time to put the hammer down, he dropped us on the next switchback and we didn't see him for a while. After the switchback was a wooded section nice and cool, easy gradient and superb views. Good job really, I was overheating, starting to get low on water and with no idea how far to go I was worried about blowing up. Below I could see Ian chasing us,

didn't take him long to catch me and Gaz. At the head of the valley we carried on to the trail we had spotted, i took some pics, was good to be able to see the trail winding up from the valley bottom and still see riders strung out behind us. from there it was an easy pedal upto the house and lunch stop at the top.

route up on the left, the rest of the route cutting the hill on the right.

looking back down the valley

A quick spin along the top got us to Spain's slowest fuente and the start of the downhill proper. More awesome views.

The trail started dusty and rocky switch backs, loads of them, fluffed a couple of the early ones, not enough speed into the corner and wrong gear to pedal out so stall and a quick dab. But I soon got into the flow (and better gear) trouble was I was knackered, noodley arms, weak hands, shaky legs, hotspots on my feet, the climb had taken it's toll big style, guess this is what proper Enduro is really about, being strong enough to climb and not be too banjoed for the descent. There were some lovely corners on here with multiple lines, steep cut on this one, outside line on that, dodge the rock here, over the big rock there. Brilliant. I stopped after while as I was suffering, got a couple pics of Simon, Gaz and Tim, quick breather then on again, faster section but exposed to one side so bit too scary to pick up proper speed. A few more switches then finally got to Ian waiting for us, a big smile on his face - ours too, only a third of the way down! A regroup the pedal down to the next bit, my chain exploded but mike had a power link. Next bit was unusual, grass with plenty of bedrock poking through, multiple lines, a few drops dunno if natural or built for the Enduro race. Finishing with an off camber rock face which a few of us rode.

Still more. Under the motorway and down some rocky chutes, some back roads and little ginnels and finally we popped out onto t he main road in town, I was gutted to be at the bottom, was thirsty for more - although admittedly probably not physically capable of much more. A couple shandies then a drive to the supermarket and hey while we're here why not unload the bikes and do back of disco and bar to home? Don't mind if I do. Matt offered to guide us down and I stuck close to his back wheel (and Simon mine) he took us on some interesting lines! Back of bar Simon and Mike went first I caught. Mike at the switchbacks so backed off to give him room then tried to catch him again by the bottom, stupid, I pushed too hard and pinch flatted, but after such a great day I didn't much care.

Stats according to Mikes phone, 17miles, 4400ft climb, 5400ft descent.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Day 3 Simon says always use protection

Pedalling in full pads on day 2 wasn't nice so I was considering going back to knee pads, Simon talked me out of it, good job too. A long drive up to Trevelez - highest village in Spain and a big jamon curing centre, we stopped for coffee and I am now most definitely a preride caffeine convert, then we drove up to the crossroad above town. Bit of swoopy road then a 6k fire road climb and would you believe it my legs were finally working, felt pretty good and I was at the front with Si and Gaz (no Scottish lads today so I think they were taking it a bit easier) until I stopped to take pictures. It was a mixed climb, almost natural interval training, steep, then eased off for a bit then steep, then gentle down, more steep etc etc. Mike's phone said 2 hours of riding only 10mins stationary, good going.

Padded up for the drop into Trevelez, fire road to start then rocky singletrack a few switchbacks thrown in managed to tricky ones then dabbed on an easy step straight after, grrr. Ian our guide was spanking me on this trail, with all the twists he'd soon get out of sight then I had no idea how fast to hit stuff, whether there was a big drop around the next bend, so had to slow down more. I helped cause a tumble further down, we hit some switchbacks just after a regroup, I did my usual slow speed mince around it and concertina effect everyone behind bunched up til Tim, I think, stalled and came off. Nt the most comfortable downhill for me but was fun. Lunch at the safe cafe as morning, more gazpacho, a Spanish mixed grill (jamon, sweet black pudding, chorizo and sliced potatoes in oil) and of course coffee to finish.

Climb out of Trevelez involved a lot of height gain but didn't seem too arduous, Tim had been suffering in the morning I could see him behind me so I figured I'd better slow down, return the favour and help coax him up the climb.

It was over sooner than expected and we got set for an epic descent (albeit a bit pedally) singletrack though some trees to start which had Gaz off when his front wheel went off piste, rooty switchbacks gave some trouble then a steeeeep drop into a washed out fire road which everyone managed eventually - couple of refusals at first. Hike out then down the full length of voodoo trail. Singletrack all the way, loads of barrancos to negotiate (cut outs in the side of the hill from water erosion, old or current streams - trail turns in the side of the hill drops a little then turns out and climbs up), thank god for dropper posts we would be knackered without them, I was doing a lot of resting sat on my saddle freewheeling the flats after the climbs. Twists and turns in and out of rocks, overgrown bushes whipping your arms and legs, it kept on and on. Next we got to nemesis (unrideable corner) it has been repaired a bit by marco so not quite as dodgy, no way was i riding it without a spotter tho so I offered my services first, all the rollers managed it then Ian our guide spotted for me, was quite nervous with the audience I now had and was worried I was going to try my usual wide/endo nonsense but remembered what Ian said about looking over your shoulder for the exit and it worked, woot! 100% pass for team green, Rollers roll! Opened up a bit for some fixed rock sections then narrow again across a couple of fireroads like the grizedale descent from parkamoor. This trail just went on for ages and I got the giggles as the adrenaline was spiking, following Ian's lines (mostly) I was laughing aloud, buzzing from it all. Hit a fire road and regrouped, high fives all round, that sort of feeling that you just can't explain to other people, you have to experience it, tiring climb and then battering your way down such a long descent. Last time I felt like that was warnscale bottoms. Tim had crashed big style he told us with a grin, on the polished rock he'd lost it and ended up sliding down the rock on his front, bike still clipped to his feet. Fortunately he stopped before the edge of the drop down the hillside. I noticed my rear shock was really hot and the next section the back end felt a bit rubbish, couple of clicks of rebound at the next stop seemed to sort it. More rocky singletrack then into a village, concrete path, into stepped dusty trails, keeping tight on Ian's back wheel, pumping the trail, manualling ditches, hooping water bars, launching off kickers and sliding the back end around loose corners, woohoo. It was a bit dusty for the back runners, Mike said he was just watching Tim's back wheel, if he could see the white of his rim he knew to corner in that direction :-)

Into another village and some switchbacks I remembered, we sessioned them while Gaz fixed another flat, me and Si cleaned them mixed results elsewhere, I had endoed one corner so went back for another go to try to ride them properly, still needed to flick the back end on one of the tighter ones but that was just an spd flick not an endo. Bit more fixed rock down hill and finally we rolled into Fondales, seemingly hours after beginning the descent, buzzing, best day so far and one that would be tough to beat. Fingers crossed it can be beaten tho :-) PLenty of rocks flying around and brushing through overgrown flora I was glad of the full length pads

Stats according to Mike's phone 22miles, 4000ft climb, 5500ft descent

Day 2 orgiva droppage and danglers

Loaded our bikes onto the van, drove up to the cafe stop for everyone's kickstarter, I had chocolate as usual, then more driving to get us halfway up the first hill.

Still plenty of fire road climbing to show my legs still weren't working. Long slog to the top, I teamed up with Tim and we made our way gradually up the hill, I hadn't realised how much difference it makes having company/someone pacing you when you're suffering, really helps. Padded up at the top (full length leg armour this time) and set off behind Marco, trail soon turned into towpath from hell, about 18" wide, aqueduct to the right, drop to the left, the drop started off small but gradually got bigger as the trail got rougher at one point I just had to move aside as the pedalling and concentration were getting to me and I'm not a fan of skinny stuff. Let the scot lads thru then Simon and pushed a couple of sections. Eventually came out onto fire road, which wound down through the forest, started with some loose switch backs, front and rear wheel drift, but nicely controlled. Onto golden eagle, singletrack switchbacks zigzagging down the hill on loamy soil, nice n drifty and went on for ages. First puncture stop when Gaz shredded a tyre, Marco and the scots where way ahead so Ian guided us down, I noticed I was entering the corners faster than him but exiting a lot slower, more work needed on my technique I think. Tight loose switchback at the bottom that I stupidly tried to endo again and failed....again. Si and Gaz took their own alternate line but kudos for clearing it! Sme greasy steps of death next which all the rollers cleared, Tim was well happy as he'd jibbed the previous times they ridden this route. A bit more skinny towpath with a huuuuuge drop (jibbed) then a regroup

and a descent that went on for ages. Concrete road zigzags, through a village more concrete then steps and dirt track, more concrete, switchback, danglers (like brambles but hanging straight down from tree branches) ripped into my gloves and shirt perforating my hand and shoulder, Dom had it worse tho, they raked his face, messy.

More concrete and steps then a fast zip down wide dirt road where we were buffeted by the wind that had picked up. Finally rolled into orgiva for a big lunch, gazpacho and seafood cous cous for me. Post lunch I figured I'd better try a coffee to perk me up as I could quite easily have laid down on the floor and slept in the restaurant. A swoopy road downhill took us to the base of the last climb, quiet back roads we flew down was quite fun. Coffee had kicked in pretty quick, I figured I'd team up with Tim again and we winched our way up the mixed concrete and dirt road climb. Was a big one, about 90 minutes through a quarry near the top then finally topped outta the coffee stop from the morning where the van was waiting, we loaded up and I was disappointed to hear this s the end of the ride, finishing on a climb feels well wrong. Fortunately it was supermarket day so Marco took us to the village above Fondales to stock up and we took the bikes off and rode home down back of the disco stopped for a beer at Carlo's (chatted to switchbacks crew who were also there) then did back of bar, excellent!
Stats according to Mike's phone 25miles 5600ft climb, 6000ft(!) descent

First blood

First day with ciclo Montana, we padded up and set off. 5 of us rollers, 2 lads from Cheltenham, 2 scots, John (can't remember where he's from) Matt and Marco guiding. Climbing from the door on tarmac, Si, Gaz, Matt and the scots lads flew off uphill, rest of us followed, hmm legs not working great. After 10 mins we head off road, swooping down lanes forgetting I had a dropper post and no gloves, at the first corner I ran wide scuffing thorn bushes and perforating my knuckles. More climbing ensued, fire road then tarmac, we hit the main road above Fondales, as we'd climbed so fast without complaint Marco said we'd earned a bonus loop - more climbing, 350m all in and I was slow all the way up, every time we regrouped I'd set off first and gradually everyone would ride passed until I was chatting to Marco at the back, oh dear.

Padded up at the top and it just so happened I was nearest the downhill so I got to follow Matt down. Loose dusty singletrack peppered with rock, some gulley turns nicely bermed, was good to follow the guide, see his line and either follow it or take my own. I like being at the front. Got down to the coffee stop all buzzing, a nice (if fairly brutal climbing wise) way to get acclimatised to Alpajurra riding.

Couple of coffees and tapas, then we rode through the village on to some more fire road climbing, up and up we went, argh and ouch my legs complained, huff and puff went my lungs, tail end Charlie again. Topped out and padded up, I tucked in behind Matt again, some twisty singletrack opened out the edge into faster double back to single, whoosh, skerf of rear tyre skidding round corners, front tyre pinging off and around rocks, whump of suspension soaking up landings. Yum. After a few junctions we ended up on a familiar trail, Don Juan de Marco (or voodoo as CM call it) contouring the hillside dropping in and climbing out of barrancos (dips where a stream runs down the hill.) i really like this trail, but the power climbs were killing my legs, finishing off flying down a narrow trail opening out for the big drop off next to the lamppost that I remembered so flew off that smiling :-)

just pile 'em up

mmmm keep 'em coming

Lunch in the village below was gorgeous, jamon, cheese, salad, squid, pork steak and a maxibon to finish, stuffed by the time we left an hour or two later. More climbing to the next village then pads on for the cliff hanger, bit of singletrack as the name suggests clinging to the side of a steep hill. Wiggly bit then a couple of steps into a sharp left switch back, scot lads in front of me whizzed round it, I stupidly ran wide and tried to endo the back end round got it round but then dabbed. Simon right behind me shouted something and rode passed on the inside, I got to the bottom and Si pointed to a ledge uptrail with a 30' drop onto the road we were on, and said "that's where you were endo-ing 2inches from the edge" think I scared him more than myself. Some big slabs of fixed rock next, nice but picked up a rock strike on my shin, grrr knee pass are comfy but limited protection. Down some more swoopy dirt track back onto the first bit we did in the morning but then turned off onto The Skills Loop, another steep bit of singletrack zigzagging down the hill, with another power climb out, Si breathing down my neck I didn't want to stall in front of him so turned myself inside out to get up the hill absolutely shagged by the top. I don't like being at the front any more!

Good first day, no crashes, no flats, everyone around safely, beer and pasta feast for tea then an early night for me try and sort myself out.
Stats according to Mike's phone 21miles 5115ft up/down

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


September miscellaneous ride rundown, coz I haven't been arsed to post lately.
2nd nightride with some STWers and Mr Sparkle round jumbles/wayoh res, nice night for it, good turn out only lost a few people. Managed to strip my rear QR on the way there, fortunately sefton lived nearby and loaned me one. Butties and a few scoops after, nice!

3rd Rode up to chapeltown to drop off seftons QR, bloody awful, busy narrow roads and suffering from keeping up with mr sparkle going up hills the night before. Just me and Ryan on the nightride, 2lads, wildswood, school climb, nice sunset, pike, hole in wall, san marino Wilton pub for a pint and free sausage and chip butties smithills to finish.

10th 2lads, wildes showed Johnnie special K where he broke a spoke, gardens DH with ryan, decided to pull a short shift, school climb, georges drop into Akon, home via golf course.

13th day off but lousy weather and child duties. Johnnie wanted photo/video opportunities so 2 lads, wildes, ICR alt route, special K. No we did not look rad^sik in the pics/vids. Pike, up 2lads, san marino, smithills and home.

So that's that.

Summers gone, how was it for you? Several planned rides not done again, but I did get some very good ones in. Forecast said tuesday treats may be a thing of the past aswell, but due to children's birthday preparations I had an excuse to miss it this week anyway. Commuting trails are already turning to mush, my worn tyres are slipping and sliding a bit too much. Overshoes and winter supplies ordered, front lights on charge, rear leds retrieved from the back of the cupboard, fleecy longs and tops dug out of the bottom of the wardrobe. Take heed. The dark time is upon us.

Atleast I've got a trip to spain before it sets in proper.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Parkamoor double

Been a while since a weekend ride, just Johnnie up for it, we headed to grizedale, had a navigational "moment" (cba checking the map) and ended up in nibthwaite, as good a place as any to start I guess. Geared up for what looked like a typical autumn day (autumn already?!) at which point Johnnie added a camelbak to his long and varied "things I forgot to bring on a ride" list. Bletherbarrow lane is a lovely way to start a ride - honest, straight up on tarmac, nicely warmed up we stopped for a map check, I'd been having issues with my fine so had emailed the route to Johnnie who had double checked he could see the maps even without network connection so he fired up his done - no route map, no email, uh oh, logged into his email no sign of my mail anywhere. Oh. So this'll be a ride from memory then, as prepared as ever we headed off road. Some work has been done on the boat to ickenthwaite so gone are the huge permanent puddles, yay, but so is the nicely technical descent, boooooo! Still, an ok, fast track and it was nice to be out. Didn't fancy my chances navigating thwaite moss and stricely so we took the road to Force, a nice bit of BW then more road to satterthwaite, up breasty haw and down the lovely singletrack descent (the haws back?) Next was a bugger of a climb I've not done in ages, up near grizedale tarn, managed to remember the route ok, saw a nice bit of cheek, properly rooty, tempting us we ride a but til it started getting too far from the main track so cut back and did the rubble descent to the visitors centre, so rubbly I barely had to brake, the rocks just pounded the speed out of you. May explore that cheek another time. Bit of food at the VC, some proper nice looking cakes at the cafe, too big a queue tho. Straight up the hill and across to parkamoor and down to moor lane, was a bit wet by now but not too slippy and lots of fun. Weren't sure of the route back up and pushed for time so we turned around and headed straight back up. Chat with a bronson rider at the top discussing 650b and x11 drive chain, nice if you're minted! An easy cut across to high parkamoor and onto the final straight, the descent to nibthwaite, brilliant! Was chucking it down by now tho, I slowed down, too much, not enough speed to hold a line over all the big rocks and off camber bedrock, ended up winding my way down the hill instead of speeding down. Bit of drama but no crashes. Still lotsa fun and a nice finish to a decent day's riding.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Not again!

Did a rivi ride with the rollers last week learned some new trails and relearned some old ones. Showed them to Ryan and Simon another good ride, nice evening again. Went up the road from barrow bridge for a change, up the dirt road at colliers row and to the mast via the shooting hut trail. Not a bad climb, seemed longer but I think it's just more gradual whereas the usual is a few steep ups with short flat/down sections in between. New stuff was appreciated apart from the boggy bits on winterhill. Rode some cheek through the gardens, got eaten alive by midges while Ryan strapped on his brand new lights which looked good for the ten minutes they were running (no they don't come fully charged Ryan) We were just getting back up to georges lane and night had fallen properly (so long light free nightrides), we decided to ride the wall same as we did last week. Got to the end where there's a couple of steep steps down, my light showed that it looked a bit muddy, no problem off we go ooof, front wheel just sank in and the bike stopped dead, I went OTB head hitting the dirt and tumbled sideways onto the cobbles of georges where I found that those convenient wingnut hip pockets for your tools are really uncomfy for landing on. Si and Ryan came round the bend to find me lying in the road. They thought I was messing about, that I'd dumped my bike and lay in the road for a laugh. Nope, I've crashed, again! Similar to my nasty crash on wildes a couple years ago I'd expected the trail I'd ridden the week before to be much the same and in the dark I hadn't spotted the changes. 4x4s have been using the big slope at the end of the wall for messing about on, council seems so disagree and have dug a massive ditch at the bottom of it - and dumped a load of soft soil at the end of the steps, not good for riding and as Si found out pretty tricky for walking too. Grrr.

Got to wildeswood and discussed how tricky it was on nights like this slowing from day time to night time speed midride, so I set off and despite still smarting from my earlier crash I promptly did a proper quick run through the woods, think I may have managed to slow myself to about 95% of daytime speed, idiot! Through akon village and home via the golf course, nice night a few new bruises and a reminder to watch what you're doing at night (a reminder i will probably ignore again)

mamils can't jump

Decided to take my blinglespeed to work on friday so I could take the long way home. Done the swoopy stuff at philips park a few times on the cross bike so figured it was time to try it on a proper bike. Climbed up to the top and did the trails on mtfu hill side of the road, as we did at HTN. Fun. The I went up and did the other side, there's a few berms then 2 bombholes in close succession, probably called double D or something else equally as humorous. The second has a bit of a kicker and has sent me and my cx bike worryingly skyward so I was on the look out for that, hit the first and woah! I maybe only went a couple of feet into the air but the ground dropped away and I was hanging in the air for ages oh and my right foot unclipped, eeek! Landed and clipped in for the second which was tame compared. Hmm laughing a lot I turned and pushed up through the trees for hopefully a less scary run, haha. Set off again hit the first and flew even higher/further landed at great speed on the down slope right on the edge of the trail with my weight on the wrong side and still not recovered from the landing, drifted off trail onto off camber which I could see ahead got very off camber/vertical, ooooh bugger! I knew I was going to crash, tried to turn in back up/onto the trail but there was no grip on the loose dirt, me and the bike hit the mercifully soft dirt on the edge of the trail. Ouchy, gravel rash and pedal strike to the shin, I can live with that. Pushed back up for another go and noticed my forks were locked out, oops reckon that had an effect, more oomph from the ramp, harsher landing and less than ideal handling. Damn. unlocked forks and had another go, unsurprisingly I didn't get much air this time, cut my losses and headed toward home, made myself feel better by riding some steep rooty stuff and the old bombhole in giants seat wood.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

New tyres please

I think this one's had it


Front is looking a bit tired too

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Up sticks

A route I pinched off the rollers, up glenridding, over Raise, down the top half of Sticks pass and round the back of Sheffield pike, then a loop around ullswater/boredale. Sunday morning me and Johnnie were still tired from friday's ullock ride but we set off and were climbing well, certainly a lot better than last time I was riding up there!

Quite cloudy and a constant threat of rain, we made it up to the zig zags without incident but on the push up the rain started, pack a macs out we pushed on but it soon blew over. As we got to the ridge the wind was hellish, proper battering us, as we turned towards Raise it became a slightly cross tailwind, bit of welcome uphill power but liable to knock you offline if you didn't constantly battle against it. My oversize jacket was inflating like a balloon pushing up around my jaw/chin, bet I looked a right idiot. With wind assistance I cleaned the climb to raise, a quick look at the view

and off we went, first bit was excellent, loose scree around big rocks, multiple lines, brilliant fun. Faster section to the top of sticks then another quick bit on a raised well surfaced trail, it was quite trail centre-esque, saw a presumably natural tabletop hit it with speed, cleared it then saw the trail banked sharply right immediately after, whoops, BRAAAAKE....and just made it round, phew. Got technical again quickly with some proper dodgy stream crossings, large penalty for failure and slick wet rocks meant a few sheepish push/dab moments. Nice rocky singletrack down to the quarry, stopped for a snack then pushed up a "trail may become indistinct..." path, turned right at the dead sheep and finally made it to Nick Head.

As you can see gorgeous views but also a bit of a drop to the left and I seem to have found a major flaw in my riding, I had real trouble here, some not all that tricky riding with a few big rock steps thrown in but the magnetic pull of the void to the left just did not do it for me and I struggled. A bit meh to be honest, Johnnie was underwhelmed too, wasn't just me. A gate then some proper unflowy grass with big rocks (after a slagging from a nowty walker) got better tho and I quite enjoyed the bottom section. Next we dropped down some tech singletrack round Seldom Seen, basically a big rut (yuk) the sides embedded with big wet rocks (ewww) and some mental roots for good measure (bleurgh) all combined to make it proper hardwork and very very slippery. I rode a decent amount of it but it's been a while since I've dabbed that much, couple of proper front wheel slips too. Sketchy.

We hit the road at the bottom and rode around towards patterdale but Johnnie was knackered and I could do with some recouping some brownie points at home so we binned it and headed back to the car for an early finish. Got chatting to a local on his way up to do sticks and he reckons it's a great descent so think we'll give that a go next time, sheffield pike is one piece of lakeland cheek the walkers are welcome to IMO*

So how do I make myself better at dealing with exposed trails?

maybe I should practice on Radwanderung...

*re-reading that sounds like I hated it, I didn't was fun in parts, but there's other better stuff around there so I doubt I'll be riding this again.

The dogs ullocks

Me and Johnnie traipsed up to the lakes again for one of the biggies, skiddaw. Weather was looking iffy, we parked near the leisure centre and started off up briar rigg to the top car park. A bit of rain reminded us this is still a british summer, arm warmers and gillet sufficed especially with all the climbing. I started on the zigzags, was doing OK passed my previous efforts but then a bit of inattentiveness and the back wheel spun a little sending me off course and unable to rectify, damn! I could have made it another few meters but as we still had another 2miles and 1800ft it's not as tho I missed a potential clean. Off and pushing, chatting to walkers the weather and gradient eased a bit and we got back to riding. Got to the summit climb once again envoloped in cloud, (I've never seen the view from the top!) I decided to have a bloody good go at it. Was soon breathing hard and after a few mintues started to zig zag across the wide trail, wobbling about all over the shop. With no view ahead so no idea how far I had to go it was a bit demoralising eventually I'd had it, fell to the side of the trail and spent a few mins hyperventilating, Johnnie appeared from the gloom and we set off again. Navigation was a bit iffy and it was blowing a gale up top, not the place to hang around deliberating. Ducking behind the minimal shelter up top was blessed relief. We soon kitted up and set off down a likely looking trail - the right one fortunatley. Steeeeeep scree to start, fun fun fun in a scary death drop just to the right kinda way. We soon dropped out of the cloud and began ullock, man I love this trail, proper rocky tech, brilliant. We picked our way down it til we reached that steep bit (4:30 in this vid) could spot a line, went back and lined up for it but gibbed it. Dropped my bike down the 3' section then saddled up and did the bit immediatley afterwards proper out of control, barely hanging on to it. Whoosh! Another instant adrenaline spike on top of high baseline you normally get riding down ullock. After that it's a bit faster, less scary, more giggle inducing, lotsa fun. We dropped down all the way through the quarry too, won't bother again, the ride back it a bit tiresome, proper overgrown with ferns. We stopped for a chat at the forest gate, wittering on about the downhill until whilst astride the bike I overbalanced and fell off the trail, could have been nasty but I managed to jump away from the bike and land on my feet, phew, survive ullock pike and early hurt myself at the gate stop.

Next we rode up towards the dodd, up through a chicken run in the forest, wire fence on oneside and rocks/trees on the other trying to snag bars, low branches trying to take your head off, tricky, a final push up a rooty bit and we popped out into a dead calm clearing at the end of a pristine fire road, strange. That took us easily up to the saddle between dodd and carlside and another push got us upto whitestones. This looked tricky infact a walker was struggling to get himself down the first tricky bit, hmmm. We also pushed down that then picked our way down couple more unrideable bits but I managed a fair bit, committing to stuff I may have gibbed before, maybe even last year, I was riding well with a fair bit of confidence. A few dodgy moments but ok. Got really steep and grassy later, I was catching up with the walker, I stopped to wait for johnnie and I saw the walker slip onto his arse and go sliding down the hill unable to stop. Too much of an opportunity to show off, I set off again, with my arse way behind the saddle almost on the rear tyre, arms at full stretch brake fingers working overtime to keep speed low without locking up (I love hope modulation) I rode passed him with a cheery "good afternoon", a smile plastered on my face. Cheeky I know. I stopped for some jelly babies sat against the fence at the bottom watching the walker and then johnnie slip and slide their way down on foot or arse* :-)

More steep grass to finish with more of a run out so how fast do you dare go? How long can you stay off the brakes? Whoosh. For some reason I thought this descent took us back to latrigg car park so the climb from applethwaite was an unwelcome surprise. With tired legs we winched our way to the top then relatively slowly down to briar rigg (4pm on a summer day bound to be walkers) Another excellent adventure. Only 12miles but with >1600m of climbing proper hard work.

*johnnie reckoned he only rode about 10% of whitestones/doups so, like warnscale bottoms, one for friends with a sense of humour - or people who have been annoying me lately ;-)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Keep Tuesdays special

Someone loves us, trail pixies, the elements, weather deity of your choice, dunno but our Tuesday rides this year have been great. Seem to remember loads of washouts last year but we've been going great guns lately even when the weather has been rubbish during the day it's come good for riding. Ryan has been hitting rivi with us and we've shown him our usual trails to mixed reviews, he's not fond of rocks - could be a problem if he wants to continue riding with us, especially if he joins us on a lakes trip!
Ice cream run a couple weeks ago was proper messed up, dodgiest I've seen it and a couple of boulders placed in the landing spot of a drop I've been riding lately, fortunately spotted before take off! San marino, 2 lads, wildeswood, all the usual, also hit Lowey's singletrack a few times as Ryan likes "flowy" stuff. He has got plenty of confidence so I had hopes of him riding that corner first time but a short shower before we got there (only rain we've seen on a Tuesday for ages) meant it was wet, I was a bit squirelly riding it and Ryan declined saying "next time" and sure enough a week later he nailed it first go. Si had a few goes, almost had it 1st time but over braked while riding out and front wheel skid sent him into the side, the other 2 attempts weren't as good, lost the rhythm but he'll be back.
This week we did a longer more xc route, winter hill, shoulder, lead mines, reservoirs, up through the gardens and George's lane back to the road and golf course to finish, another great night, long may they continue.


Couple weeks ago me n Johnnie set out for the Peak District, it was overcast and chilly as we got ready, sun tan lotion applied but arm warmest on top for the time being, good shout too coz after the chill of the cold side descent the climb back up to hollins cross warmed us up and the weather got a little better, a little sunnier, in fact just right for riding! Cold side was fun with added dead sheep on the main trail, naturally Johnnie took the vegan line around it. I fluffed the climb back up was going well but a second's lack of concentration and I couldn't keep traction over a rock and went off course, was feeling ok upto that point too, grrrr. Cavedale next, a new one for Johnnie and one I often stress about. Let some air out of my front tyre took some of the rocky lines a tiny bit slower and quite enjoyed myself. Steep climb up to do pindale, the usual mental rocky descent has had some of the gaps filled in with dust and gravel, a much smoother run. Road into hope then climb past hope station onto win hill. As soon as we hit the top we turned down a footpath, nice little run down nothing too exciting but a couple of decent drops right at the bottom. Straight back up the roman road to hope cross. Bit of route editing we decided to do the beast but push backup instead of going round and up blackley hey. Beast was slippery but fun, few dodgy moments between the two of us but we managed to get down unscathed. Push up then we went down jaggers clough, nice run down to the ford steep climb out but the next downhill seems to have changed, pretty sure there were water bar bumps/troughs to jump, not anymore. Spin along the road towards Edale but turned up passed backtor farm. Toughie this and has gotten even worse over the years, lots of pushing then a ride up passed the rambling horde (a few grumps) around mam tor and back to the car. Nice one, nice trails, arms a little pink but no major dehydration issues, no crashes, major refuel at Disley village bakers, sorted, just don't mention the drive back, not pleasant on a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

I got the fever

TdF bug has bitten hard this year, last week I found myself loading the bike into the car and driving up to cumbria, so far so normal but got to sedbergh and realised I'd only brought a bloody a road bike! Forecast was for rain later but I was gambling on getting finished before it hit, what I didn't take into account was wind. Big old headwind all the way through garsdale, not nice, clouded over too and got a little chilly. Up buttertubs pass was tough going and I soon rode into cloud, the descent down to Thwaite wasn't great steep with sharp corners and limited visibility meant I couldn't stay off the brakes and let speed build up, once down the otherside I popped out of the cloud into sunnier climes. The rolling road to reeth was a nice spin. Stopped at Dales centre for hot chocolate and a brownie, nice but I stayed too long and legs took a while to get going again. Up arkengarthdale it was nice and sunny, the climb up to tan hill was nice and gradual, quick drink at the pub the down West Stones Dale. Headwind again but despite that it proved to be a cracking descent. Some soreen at the bottom (I'd forgotten that I don't realy like malt loaf) readied me for the climb up birkdale. Was tough on tired legs but ok, the rest of birkdale is brilliant tho (relatively, as roads go) a twisty turny undulating road, nice and open so you can see any oncoming traffic, I battered along it, top fun. After Lamps Moss you get a great fast descent, taken at not quite full speed, as usual I spent most of it wondering if my forks would snap and just how much it would hurt if they did. I have road bike trust issues. By nateby my legs were feeling shot so necked a gel but the ride down Mallerstang common just seemed to go on and on, and the headwind picked up again after Hazelgill too. I did see some roadies up ahead so put in some effort to catch them figuring teaming up with them would more than pay for the exerted effort but just as I got to them they pulled over for a chat with someone, grrr. I went slow up the next hill to give them chance to catch up but there was no sign of them so I kept on going. After an age I finally saw Moorcock Inn and got a tailwind all the way down Garsdale, weeeeeeee. Big ringed it all the way back to sedbergh. Stopped at new bridge for a dip in the river rawthey to sooth my burning legs, sun still beating down, followed by pastry based refuel at the tea room. Lovely.

Monday, 29 July 2013


"A friend and an inspiration"
Deejays last ride a couple of weeks ago, really happy that I could make it. Quite a few of us set off from the dales mountian bike centre near Reeth. Absolutely gorgeous day, sunny, still, stunning views, perfect trails. We did a reverse of what I think was a regular loop, lots of climbing (well this was a deejay ride) so the chatting and catching up had to be squeezed in between the ups. Was a really nice day, I learnt not to try to keep up with the LBS owner up his local (steep) trails, it will only end in hurt. I tried a fat bike (thanks troutie) I mentioned the tyres seemed a bit hard, "yeah they're currently 8psi" (!) apparently 1 psi can make a big difference. I stalled on some steps of another climb so tried hopping my way up them, 99% of the time this ends in unmitigated failure, this time it somehow worked and I pedalled away, just also happened to be the time where, due to a bend in the trail, a load of the group had a perfect side on view of my trials shenanigans. I chatted to a few of the darlington crew who I hadn't seen in ages. Saw some of the hills I'd done in previous rides (i never seem to make many of the dales rides) recognised a few down on the way up them! Just a nice relaxed social ride, nice. Eventually We hit the top of fremy edge and descended the first little bit to find Deejay's remembrance, lovely spot, brilliant views and a very fitting tribute. Mrs deejay said a few words and one a daughter scattered his ashes. It was very emotional. We then clattered back to the car for cake and coffee. A good send off, we'll miss you Deejay.

Monday, 15 July 2013


After a bit of pushing on the 3 passes ride Si said he wanted a pedally ride next, hmm write off the 3 rides I had in mind then, hmmmmmm. So I looked around and found some info about borrowdale add ons and planned a route. So instead of taking us onto trails that I knew would have us off and walking I took us on some trails I had no idea about (but admittedly given the nature of the geography around keswick may involve pushing). Parked up by the sports centre and headed through the town and up springs wood. Absolutely gorgeous, warm and sunny, light dappled rooty trails, perfect start to the day...if a little hard work in places. Up to castlerigg farm then up onto the fell and off and pushing already, oops. Super steep grass, 30mins in and we'd already got a huge sweat on. Onto the top and a ride along and a nice bit of gentle downhill to start and get warmed up skills wise. Pause on falcon crag and a look across to cat gill that will need further investigation at some point.

The rest of the drop to ashness bridge was fun, lots of line choices so you could make it more or less technical as you wished. Climbed up passed the view point, skipped the technical trail and went straight down the tarmac to watendlath, I got further up the climb than recent efforts but still miles from the top, more pushing. Birketts leap was good but I missed some of my usual lines, really good fun tho. Did the rosthwaite descent instead of through the woods, some stonepitching here and unfortunately Si flatted, nice place to stop tho.

Some cheek towards the stonethwaite was a bit rubbish and puncture inducing, will give it a miss next time, across to the road up to seatoller and then the start of the long, long grind up honister pass. Si was not impressed, I pointed out atleast it was pedal-able :-) Got to hause gill feeling pretty weary but looking up realised there would be a lot more climbing to come. Got to the cafe and saw the dirt road zig zagging up to the top. We also saw a bus setting off up the road, "well if a bus can make it up there we can certainly ride it" and then saw the bus turn off before the road got steep "oh, maybe not then". I had a go but didn't make it to the first zig. Off and pushing again, sorry Si. Made it up to the quarry where it looked like someone was building dirt jumps out of the slag. Bit of slippage too

Took a while to spot the BW (and even then we got it wrong) we sat down for a bite to eat before starting off. A couple of walkers came up the very sanitised looking track, I asked them about the trail, did it get trickier further up. "yeah it turns into a mine track" said the bloke, "it's pretty easy" said the lady. Easy eh? Hmm. We set off and 2 things became apparent, 1 this was going to be noisy as my rear brake started to emit a high pitched shriek everytime I applied it, proper fingers down blackboard style) and 2 this wasn't the BW. Fortunatley the track and the BW both hit dubbs quarry so we got onto the mine track soon after that. Now we're talking, getting a bit technical pinging down stuff, woohoo. Riding blind I was just following prospective lines ended up right of the main track then switchbacked onto it had to do some endo action to get heading down the trail again, cool. It was only as I got to the bottom to look up I realised it was a proper tech bit

Better pic here. Cool. Carried on down passed a few groups of walkers apologising for my brakes ruining the peace and quiet of the countryside. The route got progressively more and more tech, some big loose rocks, gnarly fixed rock, drifty gravel all combining to try to stop you. Fortunately I was having a very good day, riding out of my skin, great fun. Si behind was doing a fair bit of pushing, chatting to the walkers, I was wondering if he was telling them what a git I was, dragging him around these trails. A nice viewpoint down to buttermere above some tasty switchbacks.

The next section was even more technical it was mostly rubble, a very exposed section next to a tree, looked easy enough but penalty for failure was high and I wasn't pushing my luck, another time with 2 spotters (one to catch me, one to catch the first spotter) I'll give it a go. I was bouncing all over the shop trying to stay upright and moving, got to some mini switchbacks, just fixed rock you had to zig zag around too tight to ride, had to endo around, pulling off trials moves thinking I was martyn ashton, pumped up on adrenaline, absolutely loving it, I was giggling my tits off like I was stoned. Stopped for a rest and couldn't stop laughing for a couple minutes, brilliant. The trail eased off after that and we coasted down to gatesgarth ready to do battle with honister again. With tired legs we set off up the road, nice gentle undulating to start, honister hause hidden by fleetwith but as we got closer the full extent of the climb came into view. Si stated he'd be off and pushing soon, I tried to encourage him with that PMA bull. As we started the climb proper we both dug in, spin spin spin. About halfway I was giving simon the full "you can do it" treatment, imagine you're chris froome riding up galibier, keep at it, do it do it do it, keep at it, there's an ice cold coke waiting for you at the top. More spinning, more suffering, more sweating and oh yeah more gurgling sounds as we tried to squeeze more drops of water from empty camelbaks. As it got steeper near the top and we were still going I said "**** chris froome none of those so called climbs over there are this steep" Si kept going in silence, no idea whether the encouragement my inane wittering was helping or that he just didn't have the breath to tell me to stfu. As we got near the summit I could see a couple of faces peeking over the cafe wall watching us, I shouted up "come on then, give us some encouragement" which got a half hearted "go on!" so I made do with shouting "allez allez allez" myself - hey I was still buzzing from the downs. Finally we hit the top, massive effort well done Si, unfortunately I must have spent my camelbak emergency cash on a kebab after mr sparkles piss up ride so Si had to fund the congratulatory drinks himself. Oops. well earned rest then we set off down towards castle crag. Some nice undulating trails til we got to puncture alley. Told Si I don;t care what PSI you are currently running add more, so with rock hard tyres we set off, pinballing down the rocks and stone pitch. Miraculously we made it down flat free, first time ever iirc, I had a lie down in the river derwent at the bottom to cool down then we pushed on. Si was distinctly unimpressed with the climb up to fellside but it was soon over then an updulating trail til we hit Hawes end, didn't fancy the rolling road and it was getting late so took the by now quiet allerdale ramble back to keswick, rolled up to the car after over 7hours in the saddle. Fantastic day out and has got to be a contender for ride of the year, tho other opinions are available, I doubt Si will be back to fleetwith anytime soon. 27 miles and a bunch of climbing.