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