Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Rollin rollin rollin

Still trying to figure out if I can afford a trip to Spain with the local guys I met up with last week, more commonly known as The Rollers. Si is still crocked form his fall last week and Johnnie had stuff to do so figured I'd try a nightride with the rollers. Met near Tottington and 7 or 8 of us headed up to peel tower via the cobbled climb. It was freezing, couple of chain issues on the climb but a bit of twiddling at the top sorted that and off we went across the moors and into unknown territory. I tried to find this trail after lowey had mentioned it a couple of summers back and failed miserably but with the guys leading we went across the tops, traversed a while, dropped down towards the army training ground, a tough climb back up then on up to pilgrims cross. The ground was mostly frozen but a few of us managed to break through the crust, my back wheel ended up wedged hub deep into the ground, took a bit of effort to free it. Carried on climbing to Bull hill as the gradient levelled off I realised my mech had frozen solid, oh dear. We started the descent and ran into trouble, no snow on the other side and only a smattering on this side but in all the wrong places, namely filling in the sunken trail. Much thrutching, dabbing and pushing ensued. Finally got onto beetle hill where the snow disappeared and we sped up, weeeeeeeee, lovely little down this. Stopped for a comfort break at the bottom and figured I'd relieve myself over my rear mech, wahey working gears again! Pedalled over to peel tower again did the steppy descent then down through the woods, started with a fast open field then got silly steep (wished I had some grip on my rear tyre) and dropped through some woods, another ace bit of trail got us down to holcombe brook, a diversion to the footballers for a pint and some crisps and back to the cars for a very quick pack up change and off home. A nice little run out with some good new trails and a bunch of amiable enthusiastic riders, shall have to tag along on some more of their rides.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Death defying flats, silly commutes easy nights.

Riding in on monday rode over a couple of flat stones and had sudden deflation, turns out the "stones" were some sort of panel, possibly asbestos. Mmmm nice, front wheel had kicked it up it had cut into the rear tyre then a piece broken off in the tyre. Stripped tyre and couldn't find the offending piece, hmm, look at the tube and there's a whopping great chunk inside the tube, this shrapnel has torn a big hole in the tyre and tube, cut through the inner side of the tube and gouged the tape and rim. Cobblers! New tube patch up tyre with ducktape and headed into work where the STW hive mind assured me it probably wasn't asbestos, if it was it's only 10% and even then in the outdoors I'm probably fine. Phew, i think.

My dental saga continued, another trip to Leigh and they only had an 11:00 appointment so I rode into work (13miles), rode to the dentist (14) rode back to work (14) rode home (13) then nipped out for a nightride with Si. Strong coffee before I set off and then I was riding very steadily, up barrow, onto winter hill, a redbull at the top (caffeine is brilliant for tired legs) fun ride down 2 lads then all the way down wildes (not done that in ages) where Si was right behind me all the way. On school climb Si set off while I faffed, he was 10ft or so ahead and that's where he stayed, the usual short burst to catch up was never going to happen, legs were running on fumes, but I managed the climb ok. ICR and Si started ahead, I kept behind him until the tarmac drop then it got rocky and he disappeared, speedy! Upto the pike where the wind was howling, my normally toasty windproof was suffering at the seams with a bit of chill making it through. The drop off the top was a bit slithery, at one point I realised I'd travelled about 6ft with the bars turned right but the bike slowly curving left and I was still upright, calm and in control(ish), I love maxxis minions. We were tired and cold so headed down georges lane and the tarmac to the golf course, ripped down there stopped at the bottom to adjust my saddle, "erm where's Si?". Waterbar, corner, gravel and loss of concentration meant it had gone all squirrelly and he consequently hit the deck, ouchy. Winded and sore he made it down and rolled back to his car. I rode home dead tired, huge bowl of curry with a nan and a slab of cider fruit cake to finish, top flight refuelage.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Alternative

Weekend I'd planned a biggy, rested on friday booked use of the car as I wanted to head to the lakes, duff weather and yet another morning bereft of mojo meant that plan got cut. Eventually headed out at lunchtime on the blinglespeed, forks felt a bit wooden but figured I just wasn't used to sus. Headed up barrow bridge wasn't gasping for breath like I thought I might, still not SS fit but getting there, up onto winter hill and I met some of the guys I met at switchbacks, had a chat, they told me there were a couple of places left on their riding holiday in spain later in the year, interesting.... Couldn't be arsed with rivi so went on up the hill to do san marino, mountain rescue and loads of cars up there, dunno if they were doing training exercises, expected someone to tell me off but everyone was packing up and heading off. San marino was a bit pants, proper muddy with boggy bits, pitiful run down, rolled the drop off for the first time in ages the run in and out were both a mess. Got to the bottom caked in mud, headed over to witton weavers, an easy roll along to the car park at slipper lowe and a decent ride down the wet trail into tockholes plantation, climbed to the cafe where i ran into Lowey, long time no see, another chat stop and he told me about a summer solstice ride that was planned, sounds fun. The climb up the lions den got me, a step a third of the way up, slightly disappointed but was suffering a bit anyway. SKipped riding to the tower did the descent down sunnyside and dropped into darwen, usual trail round whitehall and along the birdleway through cadshaw. Got to The Duck checked the time, could I be arsed going up to peel tower? Hmmm, see that right turn you've just gone passed, that was easy street, now for 30mins of climbing to the body farm. As it turned out it was only 15minutes but it was hard work, stood up cranking the pedals for 95% of it, but not as bad as I expected. View was looking moody and ominous.

The ride around was fun, not too muddy, got to the bottom of the climb to the tower, wow forgot how steep this was I've only ridden it SS once right at the start of a ride, I started cranking away. I dunno what came over me but my body just decided "I'm having this!" Not a technical climb a fair bit of grip just silly steep, my thighs started burning pretty quick then my lungs, then my arms, I was a bit of a wreck by the time I hit the top but kept going a looped back around to do the steppy descent, fun, got to the bottom of the steep climb again no way was I going back up to do other descent, rolled down to the moor track and back to the bodyfarm, tucked in for the long descent down to entwistle, honking up the road climb I realised my forks were barely moving, hmmm, could get them moving if I properly bounced on the bars but otherwise pretty solid, looks like they need some fettling, oh dear. Pretty soon I was back at The Duck, climbed up to green arms rd and descended via turton tower. Usual mix of road and trails got me home pretty feeling pretty hammered, lots of pizza tea and cake to recover. Actually woke up sunday with sore legs, while only a little running can ruin my legs I can't remember the last time cycling did 'em in, like I said still not SS fit. Not a bad afternoon and a couple of invites for more riding, nice.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Yesterday I was sat at work wondering about the night ride, Si's still recovering from illness, Johnny was incommunicado, hmm if Johnny is a no show I'll try going over to Darwen tower, bit of change and a decent distance. Got home CBA, dunno what's up with me, three weeks since a nightride now. I'd like to think that if I wasn't commuting I'd be raring to go riding at night and weekend. Dunno tho. Anyway Johnny called at the last minute and I was forced to go out and boy was I glad I did. I dragged the rocky mountain out of hibernation, might be riding it at weekend and wanted to check it was still rideable. Fat Tyres, Gears and (drum roll) Suspension! 3rd September was the last time I had a bit of squish twixt arse and trail, 6 months! Had to keep checking the bolts on the back end hadn't worked loose as it seems to be wagging a bit, nope that's just the back wheel moving up and over rocks instead of pinging your jacksie skyward, a revelation it was. Quick timed it upto winter hill, down 2 lads, dry, nice and grippy but wow those drops at the end are getting big.

Running late I shifted along georges lane and down ICR, I'd almost forgotten what it looked like it's been so long. I started off just infront of a couple of other bikers, finished a fair way ahead :-) then chatted with them while I waited for Johnny. They were from salford but rivi regulars (certainly more regular than us of late) Johnny showed up so we headed up the hill at a leisurely pace, Johnny is post lurgy so not riding too well. We stopped at the ruins of the old house for a sit down, rest and a catch up then dropped down ICR again. It's changed again, less rubbly in places, more dicey in others. We split at the bottom I climbed to the pike, proper cold, even my new boots were just about keeping my feet warm, shoulda put proper socks on instead of cotton ones I'd had on at work. Off the drops and along georges lane, was going to ride straight home but decided to do the rooty singletrack through wildes, Woo and indeed Hoo, loadsa fun. Finished off dropping down to barrow bridge, great little run out, bike was riding ok apart from gear indexing. Suspension just makes everything easier doesn't it?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Get into the groove

Well the spring threshold has gone a bit wobbly hasn't it? Fine weather and rapidly drying trails meant by last wednesday the trails were in pretty fine condition (considering) even this perma-puddle could be ridden through without a drenching

abandoned tyres, bricks and burnt out cars, I ride in the bestest, most salubrious locations don't I? This puddle has been covering the trail, pretty much edge to edge, continuously since last summer.
But then of course the schizophrenic weather threw us a curve ball, wind and rain and the trails turned to, well, not quite mush but certainly squishy. Thursdays ride home could best be described as skittish, the trail still had a solid base but with a slick fine mud coating, not enough mud to be draggy so speed could be picked up easily but then if you tried anything as daft as turning or braking the bike was all over the shop, again not enough mud for those fun slow sideways slides and drifty corners but just enough to rapidly spit your wheels sideways. Fun in a nihilistic "will I crash my brains out the next time the trail curves 20 degrees to the left?" way. By friday back to the more usual draggy mud and the trail in darcy leaver had been well churned up by horses and walkers. Another reminder how much faster and less effort is involved riding on dry trails. Nicely drying out trails that are fast and fun, add a bit of rain and 48hours later they're quagmires, boooooo.

A big freeze again meant this morning's drop dead gorgeous commute (no mist so not quite as nice as the other thursday) was fast but the churned up ground is jarring and testing in places, few dabs, gonna be a while before it's clip in on my front street clip out when I get to work. The grooves/mini-ruts created by bikes riding through the mud (maybe some of your own tracks) get solidified overnight then cause you trouble, TBH probably not an issue on a fat tyred MTB but CX bikes suffer. No night ride again last week due to some controversial football match but as my cold peaked tuesday anyway it was no great loss, then another busy weekend with family, will have to try to ride this weekend. Commuting is going well but fun rides are very scarce.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lose lbs from your bike with this one simple trick

Swapped the drivechain on my genesis, got rid of the plateau du fromage that it came with and bunged on one of these I did want a stainless steel surly one but they cost a bomb and the fsa was even cheaper when I got it. That saved me a good 20g, probably put all that back on again with a 1/8" chain but it was all I had in stock. See how long this lasts, the original ring was getting hooked, if I was still running the original freewheel I'd have just run the whole lot into the ground but I didn't want the WI getting wrecked prematurely*.

Busy weekends and no nightride due to various reasons meant another full week of commuting last week, I'm hoping this is good base fitness training but it's probably just training myself to ride for 13miles at a time, ho hum atleast it's getting rid of christmas weight. Riding has been top notch too, perfect winter weather, dry crisp days. Last thursday was sublime, bit of mist as I turned onto the dirt at the bottom of my road, sun shining through the trees, searing shafts of light in the mist, firm fast trails plenty of grip, did the woodsy singletrack on the way in for the first time ever on my cx I think. Gorgeous. Of course a couple of nobs tried to ruin it on my way through the city centre but I was too happy to let them trouble me. Friday I yomped home at full pelt got home properly buzzing from endorphins, not had that in a while, fun fun fun.

Oh yeah, if you want to lose weight from your bike don't ride in the dark, check the calendar, spring appears to be here! I took my Hopes off >400g gone, might need em again briefly when the clocks go forward, we'll see but right now commuting offroad is going rather well, another thing to thank STW for as it was a thread on there that got me considering year round xc commuting. In mid summer when it's wall to wall rain and mud you can laugh at my complaints.

*Guy at work just changed his original shimano freewheel on his langster after about 3 years use, I never get anywhere near that long out of mine, but then I had a look at it, teeth really hooked, bearings rough as hell, would hardly turn and the guy admitted it did slip frequently pulling away from lights and stuff. I guess if you're prepared to put up with shonky performance they will last.