Sunday, 28 December 2008


" Frosty the snowman ,do pe do pe do pe do..... "*

Ok ,so it was' nt snowing ,but it was frosty . V.cold setting out . Jeff and Gareth ( who I havent seen for about a year or so ) came round to ours at 0900. Surprise surprise we're off to Haigh Hall again . I dont think I'll ever tire of riding around the plantation.Ridden at a bit of a pace it's as hardcore as anywhere. Add a touch of gloop to the mix and it can be a right ding dong merrily on high.
Usual thing up along the canal . Spinning up through Wigan centre. " I suppose this is 'urban' mountainbiking ",Gareth said . I suppose it is. Haigh Hall is situated just outside the town centre. It's the kind of thing that these days we might take for granted . A nice old 'ancient forest ' just on the doorstep. Way before we all had motor cars though it must have been a nice place for the proles to relax on their hour off each month from the drudgery of t' pit or t'mill.
Well you can take the lad out of the prole ,but you cant take the prole out of the lad ,or something . I love it. And it's free . It only costs me a few grand a year in council tax.

Where was I ? Oh yes . MTBing.
We dropped into the trees at the back of the 'Bellingham'. A kind of 'alternate' way in. The plantation has an upper and lower section. We just had a play around in the lower bit . Whilst it was frosty ,and still very cold ,it wasnt quite cold enough to fully 'bake ' the mud. Technical then. I'm on the loaned Cannondale Rize. It's very good. It must be really difficult these days being a MTB journo type . Testing bikes . How do you find fault with them ? I 'm looking ,but all I can think is why does it have a painted ( IE ,scratched) white seatpost. Yea . Very good . Now, I know I'm a very accomplished rider with many many years of experience,with a list of palmares as long as your arm,but this thing ,you could win the Tour De France on it in the morning and then ride across the serengheti in the afternoon. I surprised myself today by pointing it up a usually all but impossible incline . Halfway up I was hoping it would slip as I'd had enough and needed a breather .
I thought " There's that root. That'll stop me "
But it didnt. It wound itself ,and me , all the way up that bastard of a climb until I was at the top . All a quiver . Ooer. Yea . V.Good . And then you point it down and it's just as good at that too.
After a piece of time messing about in the lower plant's ,Gareth had to split. Jeff and I headed up towards the top plant's. Same kind of dance. Wet slippy.
In all we were out about 5 hours,with the ubiquitous toast stop halfway.
Jeff was on the Cannondale Rush ,by the way. Another blast of a bike. Only 4" of boing at each end but as light as a feather. The tyres are a bit lacking for that type of ride and he thinks the BB is a bit too low . Maybe . But it's that type of bike . It's a bit small for me but I'll see if I cant get a whirl on it before it goes back to Cannondale. Only 4"! However will I cope?

I cant find my USB lead. Pix soon . If I can find the thing.

OK ,found it .Worst pictures ever. I dont know if it was the shivering ,or just the cold affecting the camera,either way . Here.....

*I'm thinking of the Phil Spector ,' Ronettes' version . 1963? I suppose "when will I see you again ?" would have been equally suitable.

Road Bike Sale

We are clearing the last of our pre-2009 road bikes at the minute and if you are in the market for one, there are some bargain to be had.

Orbea Carbon Onix 2002 54cm
^ eBay link.

Orbea Gavia 2007 57cm
^ eBay link.

I am also going to sell my 2007 Orbea Enol which will be serviced before it goes, blue/silver, 54cm, with Carbon fork, just £299. Ask if interested I can send pics or it's at the shop most days.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


I thought this fit the ride quite well,

"Take you down to the dirt
Drag you through the mud
Drag you through the mud
Drag you through the mud

Got a trip for two on a one-way ride
I'll take you anywhere, there's no place to hide". *

Funny kinda ride today . Set off on one bike ,and came home on another. That don't happen too often.
Another 'local ride ' ,for 'local people'.I've made arrangements to meet Alan with his two lads up near Haigh Hall somewhere.Jeff and I hoof it along the canal and hit the woods about 9.45 as planned. Alan's having trouble getting the kids out of bed at such an ungodly hour ,so I give him another half hour and Jeff and I have a mess about in the bottom end of the woods. It's very wet and slippy today . ( I can see a pattern developing here . It seems to be wet and slippy around this time of year . Every year . Hmm ).
I'm on the Commencal super 4. I'm getting the feel for this bike . It's good. I'm not really sure where it fits in the lineup,but it rides well so who cares? Someone who wants a 5.5"er ,maybe?As I've said ,it goes down very well,so close to it's buddy the Meta it's not worth calling.And it's not so stupid XC lite as to be a whippet up the hills ,again ,close to the meta. A bit tighter maybe . All in all you're splitting hairs.With the fatter tyres I've fitted it seems that way ,to me at least.
So we mess about a bit ,slip sliding away ,and head up to the rendezvous spot.

Alan turns up with a van full of bikes and two super eager juveniles. Kids these days get such a bad rap.Staying up late ,being grumpy and not eating their greens.Such bounded enthusiasm I have never witnessed in ones so young.I know our future is safe in their capable hands.
We faff around with the bikes a tad,and a few pedal swaps later I'm suddenly on a Cannondale Rize.I'm not sure what exactly happened ,but I'm not complaining.It's a cool bit of kit . The 2 grand aluminium one. Fox forks ,XT ,avid juicys.

Jeff who came on his Specialneeds Stumpy is now aboard a Cannondale Moto. A beast of a thing. Not bonkers downhill big ,put pretty hefty nonetheless.Not overly heavy either,triple ch/set,magura brakes,Rockshox lyrics.Freeride ?
Alan is also on a Cannondale(another pattern developing here).A full carbon Rush.Carbon lefty "fork",( or is that 'fo' or 'rk'?),SI carbon ch/set,XT,pimpy mavics. Dead light.And it's NOT the top XC whippet in the range . Mad.
So we set out back into the trees.Up,down, all around. Toby is on 'my' Commencal ,Jeff's bike's in the back of the van ,there's only Ralph on his own bike,a Commencal 'combi' hardtail. Talk about leaving your keys in the ashtray.

The riding was a bit like last week really. Wet /slippy/muddy.Which was a bit like the week before. Nothing much to report . A few 'offs' by all accounts but nothing on film . Drat.
Toast etc etc.
Cannondales are good.It's a bit like the meta though ( I'm on the Rize ,remember),which is a bit like the Super 4 ,which is a bit like the Fisher Hifi ,which is a bit.........
Maybe all bikes are created equal.Maybe some are created more equal than others ,but like I said I said ,it's splitting hairs.A change of tyres here and there.
The future is'nt what it used to be. Or maybe it's exactly what it used to be.

So we get back to the van. The kids instantly eat the steering wheel and then fall asleep,and I don't know what happened next but Alan went home with Jeffs dirty sloppy old thing ,and after knocking the back end out of the big un, Jeff took home posh spice.
I dunno ,ever since Bob Geldof said the effing eff word on channel four ,nothing shocks me.
Apart from how good modern bikes are. They cant be any better than this next year ,can they?

All the bikes in this story,apart from Jeff's sloppy old thing ,are available to 'evaluate'.We're hoping to take them down to Llandegla shortly.If you'd like to ride one,let us know.

And then I signed up for a Cyclo-X race.

* Mudhoney. 'Mudride'.

Friday, 19 December 2008


"Wasted and complacent
and you about the same
but still I want to get it on with you tonight." *

Went out last night . Cheeky christmas style MTB night ride.Myself , Rick ,Andy M , and Trev.Textbook up to the Pike and back.V.cold on top . In the Yew Tree after . Got home about midnight ish. Killer.
All good though . Big thanks to Jeff for loaning his battery to me . Mine's on the blink.I'm sorting it . Hmm.

* LCD SOUNDSYSTEM . Never as tired as when I'm waking up.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


"I wish I could complain
more about the rich
but then
All their children would
flee the schools,Come to every show,
Drugged and unwashed..."

"Beats ,on repeat ,
beating on me " *

Same ride as last week ,but wetter and not as cold.
Didnt really rain ,as such , but Haigh Hall was a quagmire.
Just messing about in the woods . Good laugh . Old school.


*LCD Soundsystem . On repeat.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


"I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It will be coming around again" *

Ventured back out today on the Commencal Super ( dooper) 4.

My back's not been good , I dont like to mention it , but .....

Not been out for a good few weeks.This that and the other.You know,saving the planet ....

Anyway , I was climbing the walls . Stir crazy . I tested it out( my back that is) yesterday with a quick spin on the stupid fixie. No twinges ,so I thought I'd ease in gently with a local spin up to Haigh hall.
As I've said before , a really good ride starts the night before . Prepping .Body ,mind ,bike ,equipment .All need to be in total planetary harmony .Or as close as poss.I like to start the night before with an ayurvedic infusion followed by a good shiatsu,to cleanse the system of toxins.
This week ,however ,it being a local one ,and not needing a pre-dawn alarm call ,I left it all until the morning. An extra half hour in bed quickly becomes an hour ,you know how it is ,so in the end it was all a bit of a mad rush. The bike was OK from last time ,cleaned and polished ,the ayurvedic infusion was hastily swapped for a long black coffee and as I grabbed a handful of suitably fleecey kit ,in between stirring porridge I waggled a toe out of the door and honestly thought I'd need to put everything on . The whole wardrobe. It was proper cold. I fully expected Jeff to turn up wearing full geordie winter gear . 2 tee shirts.

The first few miles were tortuous.Proper masochistic. There's this long downhill about 3 minutes from our house.My jaw was so cold at the bottom I nearly had to stop talking.
As it levelled out heading through the fields to the canal it eased off a bit.It wasnt any warmer ,it was just that we werent going as fast so the windchill wasnt as bad.Still dead dead cold though.
Some fun to be had too . Long frozen puddles ,maybe 4" deep. I hit one at speed ,balancing ,you know ,like a squirrel,the ice just creaking under my wheels with that distinctive sound it makes,but holding,just,closely followed by Jeff ,breaking right through and nearly decking it.

Before long,we arrive on the edge of Haigh Plantation . The ''plants'' as it is known hereabouts. I have done loads and loads of riding in here over the years . I love it . On the face of it it appears to be a relatively tame country park type setup. Wide paths ,up ,down ,across. It can be taken at a sedate pace and is a great venue for leisure riding with the kids and that,some long fairly challenging ups ,and some nice wide fast downs . However ,venture off the main paths and there's a cornucopia of great little riding spots.Depending on the time of year you could easily spend a half day in there and not get bored and then come back the following day and do something different. I say time of year though because it can get very wet and slippy in places ruling out some of the more vert techy stuff.Of which there is plenty. Unless you're a masochistic pain freak bikeycyclist. It's all do-able ,it's just that when it does go wrong youre not guaranteed a soft landing.I look round at some of the drops we used to nail every week.
I can still predict the weather with my left shoulder. Some mornings I think I've had a stroke . It's my whole left side.
We were kids once.

So , I could tell you where we went but there's no point. First we went down a path that was frozen mud. Later , a similar path was thawing mud . Then , a notoriously muddy path was completely thawed . I.E , muddy mud. Albeit very cold muddy mud. I know , I fell off.
It was ace.

Then we went home.
In between all that we had toast.

Come . It's good.

Oh yea. That bike's dead good . Buy one.
* Carly Simon. "Coming around again." It was a good year .
STOP PRESS : Bad back update. Twanged it a bit at work today. Couldve been worse . Couldve done it before I went riding and not gone riding.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


"The passage of time ,and all of it's sickening crimes ,are making me sad again...." *



Didnt quite make 11.00 at the leadmines this year.Still.
Lest we forget.

Good ride today. Met Rick and John and Michael on the barn rd at 0800. Jeff was in with me.Weather was cold early on . Wrapped up though it's OK . You know the score.Once you're out in it....

Set off by heading down ,skirting along the reservoir to Liverpool Castle.Had a few minutes,checked out the plumbing.
Out of the castle gate I turned immediatly to the right down a little 'off-piste' bank in to the trees. There's a bit of a path ,somewhere ,but with all the fallen leaves it was anyones guess. Just as I was thinking it was a tad dodgy big John decides to go truffel hunting right over the bars. After a minute or two we set out once more ,so it shouldnt be too bad ,but he could be sore in the morning.

We cross the main rd near the school and I turn up through the woods.I've swapped the tyres on the new demo Commencal for the industry std 'Conti verticals'.I feel the stock tyres are maybe more suited to dry conditions. I'll save them for the dry season then . (!). As the 'path' kicks up it becomes ever more slippery,wet leaves and roots all over.I make it near the top ,slipping and sliding just fluffing the very last bit and spinning out. Last week I purposefully left the shock settings alone ,riding 'fully -on'.this week I'm trying out the RP2 lever on the rear shock and the very handy 'poploc' fork lockout. I dont know if the tyres were the main factor ,or the shocks ,but either way it climbs well.

Traction's not an issue up the boneshaker at the back of the school.Just sit and spin.I carry on through the gardens avoiding the more direct climb to the bridleway and we soon pop out at the Pidgeon Tower end.Warmed up.

I'd have taken my kag' off if it werent for the biting wind.

We head up to the Pike. Matt magic 's out and about on his new pink singlespeed.Flying past ,racking them up."Morning"

I leave the bike 'locked out' for the climb up the Pike ,but as I approach that tricky first corner it's looking a bit slippy so I turn it 'all on',a flick of the levers.'Techno-biking'. As I've hinted at before ,all these labour saving gadgets take some of the 'experience' away ,but having 'experienced' a knee to the stem on this corner in the past I can live with it. You still have to pedal the damn thing.

At this point i'm not overly comfortable. I'm wearing my Aldi's finest winter leggings ,size M. It was all they had left after the Wigan Wheelers locusts had descended on the place at 7.00 on the Thursday morning. Anyway ,theyre a tad short in the leg . Napoleon -esque.Bunching up and squirming around between me and the saddle. Not good. But hey , only 6 quids.Momentarily I remember stories of Tour De France veterans talking of weeping anal ulcers,and press on.

Only 6 quid.

Very cold and windy on top of the pike . Wintry. We dont hang about too long. I remember to 'turn on ' the shock gadgetry for the downhill and head off into a fierce crosswind.That's a minor problem with new-fanglery. You actually have to remember to use it.Have you seen the Scott genius? You can download the telemetry for the downhill to a GPS enabled cappuchino maker on the handlebars ,sit back and it will lay quick drying tarmac in front of you as you descend and have a skinny latte waiting for you at the bottom.**

No such helping hands on the commencal . Only 4" front and rear. I said last week it downhills well. It does.The tyres were better this week too.It's a funny bike though. Up to now it seems to climb as well as the meta,it doesnt seem to be more 'xc' in any way ,although the lockout's more 'useable' and on the downhills it seems as good as the meta ,and in no way 'just a 4"er'.I dunno.It's not been down anything big yet,so we'll see,but the meta does it all so well ,so why not go for the extra 1.5".I guess it's a marketing thing. If you want a 4" we can sell it to you ,if you want a 5" ,or 6" , or , or .....

We turn past Pike Cottage and head up Wilders moor and 'Humphreys Ditch '. More slippin' an slidin'.Had a good crack at the ditch , a bit of pace and cleaned it . Doddle . Ahem.It was the tyres . Or maybe the shock , ( off) ,or ,or....

We spin up the road towards the TV mast.The shocks still 'off',bordering on rigid.Handy really.
Turn right along the slabs and then left .Today we're heading down the 'tunnel ' downhill to Belmont.Before that though we have to negotiate the boggy moorland diversion around the mast site. It's wet ,and boggy ,and slippy.Good fun though . Rideable. I have a vision of the future .One week .One of us .Up to our waist. In it. Not this week though.
We regroup at the top of the hill. More to think about.Shocks 'on' ,seats down ,tuck in socks.This is a good downhill. The biggest test for the super 4 up to now? Probably.Rumours are it's a bit more rutted and eroded than it was.It seems it as i'm flying down. Why would you need anything bigger and bouncier for this? The answer is right behind me ,and closing fast. He comes past to the right in a blur of white and green. A commencal 6" er 'superteam'. Hmm. OK.

I think I was on the Courier the last time I did this .
photo by Jon Wyatt.

We get to the bottom ,all in one piece.It's knocking on 10.35.We're still a good hoof away from Leadmines. Press on.A road section up 'sheephouse/belmont rd' from the 'Black Dog'. Shock-lock.
Michael's flagging a bit on his single ring GT jumpbike. I wouldnt want to swap. The guy has the heart of a lion though and doesnt quit.Up up up.
We cut up Spitlers Edge,just halfway,very wet ,very boggy and head over toward Leadmines . Not too far now.Another good downhill too.Slippy,hidden sticky out rocks.Good. Shock-unlock.
Finally we get over towards leadmines. It's gone 11. Ah well. It was a strong headwind across the moors of Sams Pasture. Shame ,because 'the' gate was open. Not quite carrying enough speed to overshoot the off camber into the field .

We observe the service from across the clough for a few minutes ,even more to think about,and then set off for the cafe as the participants/congregation ( it's not really a religious thing) start to come down the hill. We need to be in front of this lot or there'll be no cake left.I find and drop into a sneaky short little 'cornercut' downhill at the top of the clough.One for next week ? We'll see.
Earl Grey with Vanilla and a big slice of chocolate cake.
Just starts to rain as we're leaving. 5mins to the car . Result.

Brill ride.Brill bike.Brill tyres.No incidents.A little bit more than usual. But not too much . About how it should be.
*The Smiths. Rubber ring.

I let you know how the weeping anal ulcer goes......
Back to my old Aldi's finest tights I think.
**Actual settings may not exist.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Post ride pic.
Commencal super4.All the bits work well.Rock Shox Rebas ,bouncy.Sram shifty bits ,clicky.Mavic wheels ,spinny.Race face stem/commencal own bars,turny.
First impressions ,good. Not sure about those tyres,but ,well ,you know.
They were OK til it went proper gloopy.I'll stick on some Conti's .
Apart from that .Good.Obvious comparison with the meta 5.5 of last year . Like that ,but with 1.5 less. At no point on todays ride was I made to feel inadequate to the tune of 1.5 though.Whether that's a reflection on the bike or todays loop remains to be seen. I'll keep you posted.
One thing I did notice ( I think) was that it felt a smidgen more direct up front than the Meta. Coming off the back of Rivi pike the rocky drops were no problem ,business as usual,but it really shone on the rutted lower section.Changing direction at speed like a bluebottle. The trade off though was that it felt a bit more planted up front and not as eager to manual.Loifting (that's a typo ,I'm leaving it in. it's a new word. Lofting+lifting. loifting),where was I? Loifting the front end over gulleys etc takes a bit more effort than on the meta ,something closer to the Fisher HiFi,say,but with the meta back end ,albeit - 1.5,it's brill.Planted at the front isnt a bad thing ,as long as you know about it.

Uphill ,climbs well.Feels a bit meta.But with 1.5 less.Not that you'd know.It was a 'sit and spin' type thing ,although ,that said ,I didnt once lock the forks or rear shock . I wanted to try it all 'on'.Too much to think about first time. Maybe next week.

Right then. Where's them tyre levers ?....


"I'll get high with a little help"*

F.A.B 4

F.A.B More4

The 3 stooges

Curly ,Larry and Mo

Tony blur

Gareth.Dog Kennels

Shaun. Dog kennels

Top Ride today.Weather good . Ride good .Company good.
Bike good.Cake good.

*With a little help from my friends.The Beatles .1969. It was a good year.

Saturday, 1 November 2008




I'll let you know.....
If you'd like to demo this bike either Email me or go through the shop.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


"Storm or sun - you're the only one
and this is how I feel.
Rain or shine - you'll always be
one in a million" *

Top ride today. I'll write it up later.

Usual loop . Pike/ Mast/ slabs /Dog Kennels / Ice Cream Run/Cafe
OK. Edited highlights.
Guilty parties. Me + Jeff,Dave Thomas,Andy ,and new guy , Michael.
Weather.Damp to start.Low cloud . Not much to see ,but dried up /cleared up later.Ok,once you are out.
Rivington Pike shrouded in cloud.Downhill off the back ,bit tasty.Ruts slippy.
Climbed up Wilders Moor.More slippy stuff.Had a go at Humpreys ditch.More eroded/slippy ,bordering on i -m- p- o- s- s- i- b- l- e. How's that for a challenge?
Up the Mast Rd.No sign of the mast though.It's all the construction work up there.Those crazy builders are filling the foundations with expanding foam. This is leeching into the now abandoned mines thereabouts. It is expanding as only it can and actually lifting the hill up into the cloud and thus obscuring TV mast. I thought the climb up there seemed a bit tougher.Anyway.
Turned right across the slabs onto Smithills Moor to loop back around past gilligants farm back to the mast rd.Boggy across the top. I buckled the back wheel of the GT on a blunt edged thingy.Just trued it . Dont worry.
Back UP mast Rd to take in Wilders Moor descent to Dog kennels for some Pole dancing.
Georges Ln back past the pike,bumped into my old school buddy Shaun.
Carried on past the Pidgeon Tower to do the Ice Cream Run.Probably didnt help the buckled wheel,but ,hey.
Cafe.Chocolate fudge cake and a pot of earl grey WITH a slice of lemon.
Back to the car.
Nice one.All in all a good ride.The weather was a bit off ,but once it cleared it was OK. The bottom line is ,you could've stopped in bed , but then you'd have missed it.
Reet .
* Five Star . Rain or shine.

Sunday, 21 September 2008



"Niner niner zero
This is Star Comm
We got a problem
On your vector
Request status check

Oh, baby..." *

Another good ride today . The weather doesnt make the ride ,but it definitely helps.
Tagged on an old favourite too,and not without incident.Ah well . It's all mountainbiking.

I picked up Danny with a car full of bikes. One for him , the Fisher HiFi,one for our Matthew ,the Commencal Meta ,and one for me ,the ,er ,20 yr old Diamond Back Axis. The best of the bunch . Ahem.

Who am I kidding?


Met Gareth on the barn rd at 0800. Not seen him for a few weeks ,now that he's 'taken'. Presently Jeff turned up then Andy.
A bit of faffing . Usual thing ,putting wheels on ,tightening skewers etc when suddenly Gareth lets out a yelp.He's left his dancing shoes at home. Nightmare ! At least now he's married he has someone else to blame.
A quick one for him then . He sets off back for home ,not fancying a round trip of an hour just to get his shoes ,but earnestly promises to get out on his roadbike when he gets home. Just a quick '100' to Kendal ,via Shap ,and four Hail Mary's for you me laddo.
We set off then ,already one down. Classic 'up' to the Pike .I would have taken some pix ,but I forgotten my camera/phone. Doh . Only the most photogenic day of the last 2 months.Hmm.

Off the back of the Pike ,usual same old ,(it's becoming a warm-up),except I've not got 5 1/2 " swinging between my legs. The Axis has exactly 6.4mm of suspension travel ,which is the amount the rubber tyre knobs deflect. A bit different than the 'usual' then ,for me at least.No incidents just yet. Stay tuned reader.
Next up . 'Usual half ass attempt at wilders moor and the Humphreys Ditch crossing of doom ,that is EVEN MORE ERODED. I fully expect magma to erupt from within at any moment.
I had a fair crack though ,fully utilising the surgical precision of the Axis' japanese steel only to be thwarted once more by that tricky bloody exit.Almost had a comedy uphill 'over the bars' too.Nice red mark developing on my leg right now. Scars are memories ,you know.
Past the 'Two Lads ' up to the mast . Still off limits because of the digickal enabling works.
I have still not been asked if I want digital.
We divert right across the slabs but carry on a little farther before we turn left to go around the mast. A bit wet ,touching on 'trialsy' in places. Wierd having the bike kind of 'floating ' underneath oneself. Low gear ,keep spinning.
We avoid the 'Tunnel ' DH to Belmont. Jeff's chomping at the bit,but this week we're doing the 'stoop'. stay tuned . Incident imminent.

We pass the back of the 'secondary' masts. I'm feeling a tinge of trepidation ,or something. Horden Stoops start quite innocuously. A stunning panorama ( Gazes west . Ahhh ),Darwen Tower,Peel Monument ,Sunset Strip, Eiffel Tower,some sheeps,they're all there.Don't let the sirens pull you in though.The downhill needs 110%,and I'm on a 20 ( ish ) yr old bike ,with brakes made of toffee.I turn the adjuster a few times and set them to 'peanut brittle' and just point and shoot.The Axis is quick in the steering department. "Handles like a fish " ,someone once said. It's all split second stuff.Rolling along the top at first,a few drops here and there,then it comes on quick.The grass is like ice. Tricky.The big rut opens up threatening to swallow you whole ,never to be seen again,a near 'moment' on a big clump,balance on the limit,not a minute (of a degree) more, and i'm down in one piece.It is SO much more difficult on a rigid bike ,but , I've said this before ,so much more rewarding. Arms pumped. I stop.
Absolute silence. An absence of everything. No weather ,no birds . Just nothing .Just us. Good and freaky.
Andy's only moments behind ,he stops ,the story unfolds.
Danny's right here. The stoop is a new one for him. He's doing OK.50m to go, Weight back ,ya di da , a decent floaty speed , 40m ,last proper tricky bit coming up,30m,too much front brake ( ?),I dunno,fantastic dismount. Camera's in the car .
Matthew's on the Meta. The stoop is an old friend, I think ,but he hasnt visited for about 15 yrs.Same bit,fantastic dismount and a supremely athletic hurdle over Andy's stationary back wheel.Camera's still in the car .
Jeff ( keep your weight back),couple of dabs ,but largely without any problem.
And then ,like a 9mm behind the ear,Danny says " I've done me knee".
All kinds of things race through my head when I hear things like that. I can hear Michael Burke now.
It transpires that that dismount wasnt the first. Higher up he'd had an 'off ' banging afforementioned knee on previously unmentioned rock. Too much back brake }x ( skid+ rear wheel speeds up overtaking front) = ungentlemanly dismount.It's a mathematical type of formula that results in one taking a trip to hospital.On the stoop ,ie middle of nowhere,that would be in a Bell Jet Ranger.
Danny's a tough old bird though and convinces me he's OK . It's a 100m or so to the bottom bridleway/Belmont Rd. We carry on . I get to that scummy 'water' crossing and look back up the hill to see him 'stiff legging it ' behind us . Ace
On the bridleway we 'take 5' and Jeff uses his 'go go gadget' medicine cabinet backpack.After a snort of laudanum Danny's still in considerable discomfort ,but he just doesnt care any more.
What's wrong with you apes. Wanna live forever?
We carry on.It'll be sore tomorrow. No helicopter again this week . Result then.

With the best intentions of cutting it short and caffing it,we hoof along the tarmac back towards Rivington.Our other option is to go across the moors through sams pasture to Lead Mines Clough. It's Danny's shout . I'm easy. Either / or.
Theyre made of rubber these kids . I'd have phoned for the chopper. We go across the moors. It's only an extra 15 mins or so.

I had a right load of fun dropping down to the first boggy gully. No brakes all the way ,just pumping it,push through the ditch,Andy rearranges the walkers'traffic calming measures' and then another short hop to the bridge .More drystone speed bumps.
At the risk of sounding dead good, I'll mention the climb up from the little stone bridge. The Axis is in it's element on climbs like this . You gotta take the bull by the bar ends though .Made it ,dab-less. It's a different experience on the rigid bike.The full sussers almost treat these bits as transition stages between the 'proper' MTBing. Sit back and spin. Turn it on on the downhills. Not very yin -yang.On a rigid bike ,and definitely on the surgical Axis ,you need to be switched on the whole time. It wont forgive you in the way a bouncer will for the odd lapse,but focus on a climb like that ,and with a bit of luck thrown in ,you've more than half a chance. Anyway . I made it . I was pleased.Tough little techy climb.
The next bit across the moors is fairly featureless bridleway,another transition stage,but again ,on the rigid bike you soon use up that 6.4mm of suspension.And the Axis flies. The last time I really enjoyed this track I was on the Axis ( albeit the original gaffer taped one),spinning out 48x11.Funny that. Connected.Masochism.

Gate was locked halfway though.Went past a cow with a penis and horns. The realisation that it is NOT a cow comes a little too late . Luckily he plays it cool,and so do we.
Down through the lead Mines to Alance Bridge ,new rut. Manual . Kerching. Buzzing now.
Yarrow ,Rivi ,Tea rooms.
Caramel /Apple/Rhubarb ,and Betty.Or something. V.Nice. Earl Grey WITH lemon. Civilisation at last.
Home in time for dinner . Foie Gras. Bit over done.And relax.

*( I lost my heart to a.....) Starship Trooper.Sarah Brightman. Bonkers
It's a very tenuous link to a line from a book I inserted above.
I realise I have a problem .
Flashing lights in outer space...

Unforgetable. is that one 'T' or two ? I forget......

Saturday, 13 September 2008



"Zippin' up my boots
goin' back to my roots,
To the place of my birth,
back down to earth."*

Couple of differences this week. Biggest one , I suppose ,is that this Sunday ride was on a Saturday.The other big difference was ,in a classic style ,we left the car at home and hoofed it up.

Just Jeff and I this week.He got round to ours at 8.00 just as I was putting a bit more air in the tyres on the Fisher.

We set off ,jacketed up ,but as in recent weeks ,soon warmed up.Still proper muggy I think. 'Classic' route up to Rivi. Drop down to the canal ,out of Wigan towards Haigh ,but swung towards the Wuchie for some teary eyed reminiscing.( Me ,Jeff complaining about the impassable/impossible/improbable mud). Used to have SO much fun round here as a kid starting out on the mountainbikes.Good challenging climbs ,techy singletrack and killer drops. All out of bounds now. They're all still 'up there' in my mind though. What ever happened to Gaz ? His face looked like a pepperoni pizza when he came off that day. I can laugh now. We had to take him home.

We scoot towards Haigh ,just skirting the plantation ,and climb up to the top of Aspull,bit off road ,bit on ,and then towards Little Scotland ,Anderton , ya di da , Rivington.

We stay low for a while along the upper edge of Rivi Res' with 'views ' of the Pike and mast obscured by low cloud and end up at Liverpool castle were we kill our bananas.I get the camera/phone out for a pic and the maddest thing happens just at that moment . The sun comes out. Not seen the thing for a while . It seemed a bit weird.Nice though.And the cloud has burned off too. An impressive view of the Pike to cut out and pin to the wall of memory.
From here we take a different approach to the climb than normal,climbing up towards our favourite 'bombhole' at the 'ravine' end of the gardens. A proper tough climb . Just about steep enough to be classed as 'do-able',but with perma-wet cobbly stones a definite challenge. I'd like to say I 'cleaned' it . But I didnt . No shame in the odd dab.

Jeff had a problem here with a wayward LH crank arm coming loose. Luckily he had his trusty big allen key to sort it out. It would have been a long walk home without it. Just occasionally when I'm packing my backpack I'll think " Do I really need all this crap ? "

Usually the answer is "No ". But when you do........

With the crank tight we meander on up through the gardens,checking it again as we get to the toilet block.
From here up to the Pike . It'd be rude not to. Still muggy climbing up ,but just as we round one of the corners there's a definite drop of a degree or two and a clearing of the air .Mad . Nice though. Bumped into Matt on his singlespeed ,flying down,on his way to 10,000 miles.**

It's a bit cooler up top,but not cold enough to wrap up . We have a minute and drop off the back . Have I mentioned that I like this little downhill ? It's becoming even 'tastier'.I dont know if the drops up top are bigger,just a bit edgier . Or something. And there's a new rut appearing. Yay. Bloody masochist.
Weighing up our options ,and factoring in the not inconsiderate mileage home ,we decide on a caff run . Ice Cream Run is the easiest from here,just as it's starting to rain too. We must be just outside the confines of the 'weather vacuum'. It all adds to the life affirming experience I suppose.Maybe it was the rain and the wet rocks ,I dunno,but the fisher isnt quite as 'easy' as last weeks Commencal. Is that a good thing ,or not?

Kid Rock's on the radio. Right now. Singing 'sweet home Alabama all summer long'. The Fisher is like that. It's a version of a classic . It isnt at all offensive, and makes you feel quite good.Again , I dunno . It takes me somewhere I like to be at.

Ice Cream Run. Caff.

In another break with what is becoming tradition ,I eschew the Earl Grey for a coffee quite simply bordering on ristretto ,paired with working class toasted white bread and marmalade to assuage hunger.
Hunger assuaged ,the earlier rain has blown over,we spin on the road into Horwich/Blackrod with a slight diversion through some woods to the A6 .Boggy.Nettle-y.
Shortly(more road) we arrive back on the top edge of Haigh plantation at the 'Balcarres Arms 'end,nipping down the side of the church for the long downhill into the woods. A fast well surfaced blast . Recently 'sanitised ' I'd say ,but still a blast all the same.

We just 'go through the motions ' and drop straight through the 'plants' ,avoiding any mad boggy stuff. As responsible ,mature MTBers we'd say the trails are 'unsustainable' when theyre so wet. The truth is though we'd had enough for one day and couldnt be arsed . There is one particularly wet bit I considered for a nanosecond.That run from the canal .( ? ) Maybe next week.

Return loop on the canal fairly uneventful ,apart from the canal lock in Poolstock coming off its 'hinges' and that whole section of the canal draining away. It was fine and full of water when we went past in the morning. The waterways guy said he thought it had been hit by a canal boat . Weekend drivers,eh ?

Scotsmans Flash.Landgate . Soughers Lane .Ya di dee. Dinner's in the dog.
IRO 35 miles .

*Odyssey. Back to my roots.
"Ain't talkin' 'bout no roots in the land,
Talkin' 'bout the roots in the man."

**Matt rides a singlespeed.He intends to ride 10,000 miles off road this year.Just think about that for a minute.