Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cheers Simon pt 1

I'd booked Friday off to do a big ride, was thinking 3 towers then over to cragg. When we met the rollers on Tuesday Simon said he had the day off too, he's a fit bugger so it looked like I'd have company for a bit of a beasting. It was on! Thursday afternoon and the forecast was grim, walking up the steps to the train station later my legs still felt dead, still hadn't recovered from tuesday (biggest ride of the year so far) oh dear. Climbing barrow bridge Friday morning in pissing rain my legs not working properly, oh dear. It is not on! The extension to Cragg was off the cards.

Met Simon at bob smithy's and we set off, on winter hill visibility was awful, cloud meant we could only see about 5' in front, can see more at night! Glasses were misting up so had to ride without, my eyes were constantly getting grit in them. 2 lads then wildeswood and up school climb. At the bogs on George's lane a ranger saw us and asked us to stick to the footpaths as there had been a lot of damage lately, we readily agreed ;-) then he realised what he said and corrected himself. Told us the track we had just come up was a footpath, which is true, it's also a 6' wide cobbled road, he may have just been making a point but the chance of us damaging that by riding over it was none existent. Up to the pike, no view, down to hole in the wall and up to the mast. I would normally grabbed the singlespeed with the rain but Simon had said he'd be on full sus so I better had be too. Going down San Marino I was glad of it too, we raced each other down, proper quick, buzzing at the bottom, not quite hi fiving but close :-) only silly dampened by now having both boots full of muddy water.

Over to Wilton weavers we did the permanent wet descent into tockholes woods and the long slow climb up to Darwen moor. The rocky singletrack was very slippery and the climb back up to the tower was gruelling. Simon had crashed earlier so took some time to straighten his bars while I wrung out my socks and emptied my boots. The drop into sunny hurst was done almost brake free, good job coz by the time I hit the bottom pulling the rear brake to the bar barely slowed me. Down the steps I could hear a metallic knocking, stopped to look over my bike, suspension and frame looked ok so set off, clunk clunk, checked again couldn't find the source so set off. At the bottom I finally spotted my rear brake calliper hanging off by 1 bolt. Oh dear. Down into Darwen for a replacement. About an hour lost and some nice little trails missed out. Road climb out of Darwen, along the roller coaster and dropped to The Duck, Simon managed to resist the call of the beer figuring he'd never get started again. 

The Long slog up to crowthorn and quarlton heights was taken steadily. The climb up to peel tower Simon gapped me near the top. We Descended down the steps and back around to quarlton, Simon dropped me properly on the climb back up to the body farm, my legs were shot. Back brake pads were gone by now, so the speedy road descent was a bit nervy. Back passed The Duck up to green arms and down to turton tower. We split after that, after 8 hours in the rain I limped home knackered, bike suffering, no back brake, gears running a 30 second delay between clicking the shifter and the chain actually swapping cogs* Got home rinsed the bike down, showered and tried to rest and refuel ready for my next adventure.....
Yeah it was that kind of ride.

*tried to clean the gear cables next day but they were so gunked up I had to remove the inner, at which point a load of muddy water poured from the outer.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What the heck

I thought after the bad weather last week we'd seen the last of the balmy summer evening rides, happily I was wrong, another cracking bit of weather so I had the day off with the family and set off early for the night ride. After reading Benji's hardtail less article the other week I decided I'd shelve the mmmbop for a while and rebuild the heckler - wahey the hooligan is back! Slightly leaner and with a lower front end with less travel than I'm used to. Climbing up barrow bridge and winter hill it seemed ok, bit bobby but not too bad. On burnt edge it just seemed livelier than my other bikes, dunno if it's low bb, lower bars so more weight over the front or geometry, dunno. Anyway decided san marino would be the perfect test run for a brand new build....hmm. Saturday was a nice sedate run, this was furious cycling, tore down, found a new "line" just before the big drop.

Take off at T land at L miss out the lump in the red circle, I mentioned this to johnny later and he said oh yeah been taking that line for ages....oh. Buzzing at the bottom, turned around and climbed back up. Did two lads next and was on the edge of control, nearly lost if a couple of times. Down the rooty wildeswood route, there's a section of wooden steps midway and the way the back end just soaked up the battering was amazing, coil shocks kick arse. School climb next and met up with Johnny near rivi where we picked up a couple more riders who wanted directions for a winter hill descent, "the best one" "well we're going to san marino anyway so follow us". Up hole in the wall for my third climb up winter hill, saw the rollers at the top had a chat with them. Hit the downhill just as fast as last time, arms and legs proper pumped by the time we hit the bottom. Over to belmont and up rivington road, not a barrel of laughs has to be said, we headed for great hill. Spittlers was covered without too much fuss.

Hit traffic on the top section of the downhill, couple of sheep who just would not get off the trail and ran ahead of me, did the downhill of the next section so quick I managed to freewheel all the way along Drinkwaters and to the steps, nice. Mid section is riding well just one mud filled ditch, bottom section the suspension kicked in, Johnnie was on his hardtail following me but when we hit the bumpy section he said I just disappeared, whoosh. Few dodgy moments on there again, hooligan bike really does seem to egg you on to push your limits. Was chatting to someone the other day, (can't remember which poor sap got me onto the subject of bikes) about crashing and I was saying I don't crash often, I'm fairly conservative and keep within my limits but I'd had more near misses in this ride than the last month! Felt faster than the hemlock too, no idea if that's coz it actually is or whether the hemlock is smoother and more controlled so just feels slower. Without a load of boring back to back testing with a stop watch and GPS speed reading I guess there's probably no way to tell. Bike feels awesome tho, if slightly scary. Cake stop at the bottom as my legs were feeling proper frazzled, full of energy providing butter, sugar, fruit and mental inducing strongbow which can be the only explanation for my subsequent behaviour. Back to rivi via anglezarke and as we'd skipped the pike earlier I decided to head up there, was feeling ok spinning up. Was 10:15 by now still fairly light but all the towns had their lights on.

Down the drops faster than I probably should in the dying light, along georges powering passed a car gingerly negotiating the rocks and bumps, then I figured "hey another trip up winter hill would be a right laugh, a san marino hat trick". Spun wearily up hole in the wall again, going up the road I was getting that chilled out endorphin vibe, a sea of cotton grass either side of me swaying in the breeze, views out over to the sea to my left, twinkling lights of bolton and manchester to my right, buzzing from a fantastic ride I was tempted to have a lie down in the grass and soak up the atmosphere but it was getting late and I had to keep moving lest I seize up. San marino was taken a little slower in the twilight, lights definitely needed now, even stopped for a rest halfway down. Down belmont road, up scout rd, skipped the quarry this time and went straight to the car park where a couple of figures around a car fled at my approaching lights, hmm wonder what they were up to. Dropped through smithills and coasted home down the road to home, what an excellent evening's entertainment. Legs were burning so a cold hose down in the backyard while I waited for my pizza to cook, big mug of tea and another big slice of cake and a sleep of the righteous. Mapped it out as 40miles and 6000ft. Get. In.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


No gnar was harmed in the making of this post.
The big plan for summer solstice was an evening ride up snowdon, camp out and a trip up drum next day, unfortunately weather and other stuff (but mainly weather) meant last minute cancellation from me, some hardy souls did still brave the elements. Johnnie was up for a ride Saturday, forecast was orrible but weather out the window was looking iffy so I suited up, grabbed the blinglespeed for a change and in deference to the weather. I looked out the window to see monsoon conditions so I chilled for 5 mins while it cleared and then set off for what turned out to be a pretty decent ride. Climbing barrow bridge SS for the first time in 3 months(!) was a breathless affair but I made it. Was getting warm climbing and i was thinking of shedding the arm warmers but as I topped out the wind picked up. Went down hole in the wall and wildeswood, unaccustomed to skinny tyres and the saddle at full height my speed was lower but it felt like just as much of a challenge. Down the backs and up school climb, ouchy then headed down AICR. I met Johnnie just above top car park and we climbed to the pike, battled around the cobbled corner was going ok then the wind really hit on the last stretch to the top, a wall of wind. A rest and some fathers day cake at the top, mmmmmm. Didn't fancy getting blown sideways off the drops so I took the lefthand line and minced the ruts. Up hole in the wall was tough but doable then an easy pace up the road chatting away. On San Marino I took it easy again, lowering my saddle makes a massive difference, with it up I just can't absorb the bumps the same, respect to those who can manage to go just as quick with their saddle trying to batter their arse.

At the bottom we decided to extend the ride, there'd only been a little rain and despite johnnies hangover we were both feeling reet. Up through Belmont village and onto Wilton weavers, rain kicked off again but it was only 5 mins of horizontal rain then the clouds cleared for our climb up cartridge hill, it was clear skies and sun by the top.

But looking back towards chorley we could still see the grim weather

We went over to the tower via the rocky chute and the bonkers steep climb back up to the tower, beasted myself up there. Rain kicked off again so we had a walk up the tower, blowing a hooley at the top, good if rather grey views tho. We set off down sunnyhurst, proper quick, we split at the bottom Johnnie headed for great hill (where jumping over a waterbar the wind blew him 3ft sideways, rode it out tho) I dropped into Darwen. Legs were tired but figured it was an easy route home, forgetting about the climb out of the cemetery, but again a climb I normally grovel up in 22x32 I powered up without too much trouble, SSing is ace. Rode to the duck from cadshaw, steep climb out of turton res cat park but after that it was a fairly easy scoot home. Got home only slightly damp, tired but not destroyed. No tear arsing down super tech hills, just a nice ride round the countryside, 34 mile 4700ft, jobs a good un.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Long day

Finally booked myself a day off work just to go riding and whaddya know, the good weather was due to break, grrrr. Rain due at 12 in the lakes so I was up at 5:30, out at 6 and on the trails for 7:45, go go go. Nan bield was the primary goal, parked up on the road a bit away from kentmere meaning to get a nice warm up before the lung buster up Stile end, on the way I spotted a BW sign through HP plantation, aha a shortcut, but my cuts short or long always go wrong, proper drag up onto staveley head fell and the route over green quarter still had boggy bits despite the recent weather, grr ah well the downhill will be worth it...nope! Bloody sheep running along the trails in the middle of it messed that up then the bottom section was full of sheep as the farmer was herding them, so I waited and pottered down behind them. grrr.
I wasn't feeling it on the way up sadgill, no burning desire to dash myself against the hillside in a futile attempt to clean it, couple of breaks even before I got to the cobbles and the ground was already being spotted with water as it tried to rain - you're early! Pushing up the switchbacks of gatesgarth the rain built to not-quite-drizzle and the wind picked up, I went from sweat pouring out of me to quite chilly within a couple of minutes so I stopped and layered up. Had planned on doing ill bell but with the weather closing in I figured I'd stay as low as I could and atleast I could do 1 descent in the dry(ish). Dropped down to mardale head, it was alright but I wasn't really feeling it, dunno why. The soul destroying climb up NB was harder but shorter than I remembered but as the drizzle had kicked in properly I knew the descent wouldn't be pretty. Hunkered down at the top I got my phone out, H&S isn't normally a strong point of mine, no-one knew where I was, same old same old, however this time I txt my mrs told her I was doing NB to kentmere and to call me in an hour to check on me, I'd already got The Fear, oh dear. Managed the switchbacks with only a couple of minimal dabs, going too slow, but I refused the big steppy bit at the bottom, ridden this a few times but didn't fancy it today, wimp. The descent down Hallow Quarter went better, I perked right up and adopted my usual blast through it style, fun times :-)
I had thought of doing garburn pass aswell but my feet were wet and cold, stupid summer shoes, rest of me was damp but ok but if the rain kept up I'd be in trouble and I had other plans so back to the car and paid my first ever visit to Wilf's, part of mtb history so figured i'd better give it a go and as it was just after 11 I'd sneaked in before the breakfast cut off, mmm.

Slightly disappointed at the lack of beans or fried bread but quality bacon and sausages and enough tea and milk for a few cups (and I drown my tea in milk). Back home for 1 and an afternoon with the kids, while the mrs went shopping, lovely. Legs were a bit tired but after last weeks awful intro to night riding for Ryan I figured we better do a good job this time so arranged a tour de rivi. Met Si and Ryan up at Moss bank, barrow bridge climb which everybody loves as a starter, up onto winter hill and did 2 lads where ryan managed to go off course (chris did the same last year aswell, I thought it was an obvious trail) Met Johnny on georges and did wildeswood, johnny taking it gingerly with his ribs, good run down just a couple of grumpy arse dog walkers, (slowed down, wished them a good evening, they just scowled) Down the backs and up school climb where Johnnie and Ryan comparing fight club notes (they both do MMA). J split before ICR we plowed down proper rocky, lines have really changed again, massive rock below a drop off I've been riding lately, just missed it. Don't think Ryan was too impressed and not just due to the flat tyre he got, an acquired taste maybe. UP the gardens to the pike, the route down the drops was the driest I've seen in yonks, oodles of grip, the ruts could be ridden at top speed and we flew down, whoooooosh! Ryans legs were felling it on hole in the wall (mine weren't great) but he kept going, kudos. San marino next and we all got to the bottom grinning like loons, excellent run down, no dramas just lots of speed. my legs were shot by the time we hit the quarries, all jittery and I was all over the place line-wise. Quick climb back up to scout rd and down through smithills in the dying light, bit tricky to see the terrain in the flat light and really dark under the trees eek! Made it down unscathed, cracking ride, quintessential summer night ride, despite clouding over a couple of times it was warm, gorgeous views, dusty trails, a good laugh, fantastic stuff.

40 miles and 7000ft combined, woke this morning aching everywhere from the neck down, brilliant day off.

Friday, 7 June 2013


Gorgeous weather and no riding at weekend so I had plans for a big night ride on tuesday, I figured going to Si's and riding up rooley moor rd, couple laps of cragg and lee then I could ride home 30+ easy. Ryan had just purchased an uphill-able bike so asked to come along, no worries. Set off from Si's this ensues about 7 miles and 1500ft of climbing. By the top of rooley moor Ryan was struggling a little but he was hanging in. We hit cragg and started a loop, again ryan was dropping back but we'd wait after each section, at the next one we waited for a while and finally saw him riding one of the dirt tracks that runs through the quarry back towards the start. Shouted and whistled but he kept going, figured he'd got pissed off/tired of the pedally nature of cragg and was going to wait at the start. We finished the loop, no sign of Ryan, uh oh. Waited around for a while asked returning riders if they'd seen a guy in a white T, nope. Tried calling him and realised he said he'd left his fone in the car, uh oh number 2. Hmm decided to ride up rooley moor rd to see if he was at the link rd, he knew the plan was to hit lee later. Up we went, no sign, hung around a bit, has he headedhis mobile to see if he'd made it back, no answer. Oooooh dear. Si headed towards home to see if he could find him, I went back to cragg, had a good look around then back up to the link, still no sign. Hmm, worried about getting benighted on the hill I set off homewards 1 to check if he'd gone the wrong way and 2 I was fully expecting a call to say he'd returned. I was almost at Gin Croft when I got a call from Si, still no sign. Damn. Si was headed for Lee in the car suggested I join him there check he wasn't broken and bleeding having fallen off the seesaw or something. Back up I went and down the link rd again, met Si near the pump track, it was now gone 10pm and 3 hours since we'd seen Ryan. I'd nearly called mountain rescue on the way over and was suggesting it to Si. Hmm. Decided to get back to his car check in with home and see then. Just before we got to the car my phone rang, ryans number, I answered but was dumb struck, so many questions, I stuttered a few times trying to decide what to say then settled on "where the **** have you been?"

He'd gotten disorientated in Cragg, gone back to the start to wait for us, got bored of waiting and came after us and for the next couple of hours was playing catch up in a right comedy of errors. A couple of riders we'd spoken to told him we were waiting at the start but by the time he got there we had moved to Lee looking for him. He saw us going down the link rd to lee so followed, we missed each other there, he hung around Lee for a while spoke to some more riders we'd chatted to who told him we were up ahead so he pushed back up the link rd and headed back down rooley moor rd probably just missing Si looking for him. He was then lost in heywood, managed to find a helpful chap with an iphone and used Find My Iphone to finally find his car at 10:30. What a balls up!

Me and Si's assumption that he was going back to the start and wait while nominally correct was a bad move (if it wasn't on a sign posted trail loop we would obviously have gone after him) and him deciding to follow us when we were probably 10mins+ infront compounded it, the rest just spiralled from that. So lessons learned biggest of which is DON'T FORGET YOUR MOBILE.

Here have some pics