Saturday, 29 March 2008


"I am the rain
I'm gonna reign this way again
I am the rain" *

I can see the headline now. Dad of four in twice in one week outing shock.
I'd been hoping to do the Penmachno ride since it was first put forward a few weeks back. I didnt want to stick my neck out and definitely say yes until this week 'panned out'. In the end it panned out OK ,so it was a goer.

Jeff drove ,which was nice,thanks Jeff.Penmachno is about an hour and a half away,just a few miles past Betws Y coed in North Wales.I havent been before but i have done a few of the other nearby Welsh trails so I was looking forward to it ,expecting more of the same. I had reservations about man-made trails but to be honest they are so well done they do make for a good days riding.Penmachno was more of the same really.Straight out of the car park youre out on the trail.The obligatory bodyshock first climb takes you to the action ,fire road punctuated with bits of rolling singletrack.All good stuff.A good warm up. The weather ,also following the tried and trusted formula ,was V.blowy and a bit damp. Not too bad and after the first climb I'm sure we were all nicely warmed up.We duck into the trees for the same samey singletrack. Hardpacked slate , a couple of rocks and roots. Like I said ,and I've said it before,it is packaged for the masses MTBing,but who cares? It is really well done , and challenging at times ,and physical and fast and if you dont want to go fast ,as safe as you like.To compare it with a wilderness ride in the lakes is unfair. Those rides do have an extra bit of indefineable 'thing' that could be called 'better' but at the end of the day it's still just riding. So ,good then. I really enjoyed it. Plenty fast woodsy sections ,up and down ,and some good climbs. Switchbacks are where it's at.The weather turned about half way round . When I say turned ,it was already bad ,then it turned ,badderer.Raining hard and windy.We had an option of an extra 12k loop but no one seemed to be jumping for joy at the prospect ,so we cut it short for the standard ,22k loop and climbed on.We stopped for a buttie and now it's really raining,digging my' taste the difference 'crusty baguette out of my backpack it doesnt seem too crusty at all now . Hmm.

This was about the half way point where it turned a bit nasty for a while. We had to cross exposed moorland. The singletrack surface holds up well . I'd go as far to say it's ' all weather ', a few puddles ,some deeper than you might first think ,but generally good to ride . No bogfest considering the rain and all that.The strong sidewind wasnt helping progress much though but with gritting of teeth it wasnt so bad.It's all relative.Let's just say I've seen worse.(Previous post -how to put people off mountainbiking )The descent off the moors was a classic too.Rolling and pumping. All the old BMX moves.Andy was in his element doing his ubiquitous little tabletop turndown that he always does ,almost as much as I do no footed endoes in car parks.I slipped a pedal on a little hipjump banging it right on my sciatic nerve bad leg I dont like to mention. It'll be sore tomorrow.Ah well.Landed it one footed .All the old BMX moves.Arsehole twitching a bit.

We havent far to go now ,but Gareth is building up the tension by announcing the last DH is a 'toughie' and that he 'decked it ' there the last time they came and let's 'have it'. Oh ,good ,just what you need when you're cold and wet on the side of a hill with no phone signal. Andy also said it was fast and hard with some big rock drops exposed on open switchbacks. Oh , nice. To say the reservations were creeping back is an understatement. We arrive at the trailhead and there's much lowering of seats and dry mouth.I dont know what all the fuss was about. Yes it was fast ,and yes a bit sketchy,but all really fast ,flowy and do-able,the switchbacks being especially nice.Just make sure you go around them and not over the top. The guys said it must've been the fact that last time it was A) summer and B) they were on their ' big ' bikes and therefore were going 'much faster'. Ok , I can buy that. It was good and with a bit more speed could be quite tasty.
And that was that. Spits you out right at the car. Nice. Almost ,er ,designed that way.Definitely worth another visit for that extra bit in the dry summer. Do they have a summer in Wales?

Good ride today.Me ,Jeff,Andy ,Gareth,Phil and Yeti Tim ( Nee GT / Norco ).Pub/drink/chat.

Oh ,yea. The bike. Gary Fisher HiFi. Ripening just nice.I am fussy with tyres but I dunno ,theyre working well.I did discover that the bikes travel isnt quite as bottomless as the meta on that last bit .It is V.good though. Get it going and it fairly wafts along.You just dont notice it.Up ,down ,whatever.Tesco's finest taste the difference mountainbike.

I took a few pictures of an old BMW 6 series in the carpark,de-badged ,so a 628 then.Then it started raining so I didnt take any more. Gareth did. His are up at

Heres one .Check em out.


*Unkle. Their new long player is quite good.


" I believe that children are our future,
teach them well and let them lead the way" *

I can see the headline now. Dad of four in midweek night out shocker.
Alan phoned me Thursday morning ,did I fancy a night out in Manchester,type thing.Velodrome,world champs.

We got there about 7.00 after a bit of multi lingual car park faffery.I couldnt understand it ,but it only took half an hour to get to the other side of manchester instead of the usual day and a half.Anyway ,straight in ,last ones there as usual ,sat down ,starters orders ,GO ! ,British mens team sprint,gold medal.World record.How good's that?We'd only been in 5 mins.
More of the same was to follow.Rebecca Romero beat some yank bird in the individual thing pursuit final. Gold.Shanaze Reade led out Vicky Pendleton to take the win in the womens team sprint.Gold. In between all that there was some excellent racing with the crowd really getting behind the riders to create a brilliant atmosphere.

Shanaze ,3rd left has done brilliant.I remember her as a kid( she still is a kid) at Crewe BMX,struggling to even get a bike.She was blowing them away on a borrowed bike.With spades of determination and no doubt some natural abilityand some support she has turned into a genuine world champion cyclist.It makes you proud.

All in all a good night. The riders make it look easy.Too easy. After having had a go I can assure you it is most definitely not. Not just in terms of fitness. It's those stupid short fixed wheel brakeless tall geared bikes.bonkers . When I had a go it took me 2k to stop one. A dozen of us booked out the entire place one evening .Bike hire ,all the kit, some good coaching ,2+ hrs ,£20quid each.Give it a whirl if you can.Go and watch ,that's good too.

* Oh come on !


Few pressies off th'Ebay this week. I've been trying to get hold of some old school MX brake and clutch levers,specifically magura ones,for that retro look ,you know.Anyway ,it being a bit too specific ,i've been struggling.So I broadened my search and found these new old style ones. Do the job,not strictly correct ,but hey.

I swapped the bars and stem too.Wider ,flatter bars and a shorter stem. All out of the shed.

Quite an adaptable bike that old cruiser.
Thumbshifter.Backwards compatible for future use.......

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


Saturday, 22 March 2008


"Baby let's cruise away from here
Don't be confused baby, the way is clear
And if you want it you got it forever
This is not a one night stand babe
Let the music take your mind
And, just release and you would find " *


It's a c.1980 ish Panda Pro-am 'Raider'. 26" BMX .I've had it about 15 yrs . Alan originally brought them over from statesland ,I guess ,just around the time the 26" cruiser BMX class became obsolete due to some smartarse using 24s and blowing away the gate. Anyway ,Alan had a few left,I got one,about 15 yrs ago.It's been built in a number of guises. Originally I built it up in a beach cruiser type style. Chrome steel rims ,big saddle , foam grab-ons ,whitewalls. One year I tweaked it ,only slightly ,to enable me to MTB on it . I basically just switched the tyres for some old butterscotch smokes i had. I ran it a whole year ( 92/3/er ? )up Rivi as a mountainbike.I remember the first proper long ride I did. I rode from our house in Ashton via Haigh Hall up to Rivington Pike . On the way I used to speed down that dead steep hill in Blackrod that crosses the A6. On the Axis ( my actual MTB )i could big ring it from the top ,hit about 40 ,come round the bend and ,traffic lights permitting ,fly across the A6 ,and hop off the backside of the road landing a good 20 feet up the road. So this time I'm on the cruiser ,i crank it up ,and as i come round the bend i have a red light.Usually I'd simply stop. With chrome rims ,techIII levers and touring bike calipers.Simple. I squeezed a handful of lever and it just kind of ,hummed. Didnt slow down.Just hummed . I ended up laying it over ,'foot braking it'and ditching the bike in the first lane of the A6 ,just as i got a green light. luckily I was on a cruiser so I still looked cool.Anyway ,I hardly used the Axis that summer.Singlespeed.Bought the tee shirt.In fact ,for a while i ran it BMX with just the one back brake. Probably 'til i took it ,or it took me ,down the ice cream run.As these were officially to become the dark years of mountainbiking ,nobody saw me.It was before the time of the samurai.

The bike originally came with blue anodised araya 7x rims that i hadnt used as the wheels were in a bad way.I had them built up onto the original shimano large flange hubs and that's what it still has.Over the years I'd maybe change the look and feel of the bike depending on how I was using it. I did some short commutes into Manchester on it with a flatter bar and some slicks.

In 2002 , on the back of the old school BMX thing ,Alan put on a reunion type ,show and shine meeting, at Sankey BMX track in Warrington.I took a number of 20" ers ( that's another story )but my 'rider ' was the cruiser.For this I built it up in its original form. As a BMX racer .Well ,fairly period correct ,at least. What goes around...
Since then its had the odd parts swap,usually just the old bars to make it look more cruiser-ey,and maybe the front chainring to change to gearing.I 've not used it too much in recent years . The odd commute the last time I could hoof it into Manchester,a few years ago now.I havent been to the track in ages and at the time I had a 'proper ' 24" to ride.

So the poor old Panda's been collecting cobwebs. For some time ,years probably ,I've had an idea what to do with it. It's ripe for klunkering.
You know about klunkers? Old beach cruisers , converted anyoldhow on the cheap to mountainbike on.Flares ,plaid shirts,sideburns. I already have a parts bin of suitable junk ,and some sideburns.I kinda started this afternoon.Some time back ( a year ,I dunno ) i bodged on some cheap ( cheap out of a skip )mtb forks with canti bosses. Job # 1.The original chrome tange forks look ace ,but it'd be difficult to get a suitable ,ie working ,front brake. It's a work in progress.I dragged it out of the shed. The seat was quite low . I'll just lift that up a bit. Hmm.Tick tock tick tock.




OK.Phase I.First fix.I see if I cant dig up some old snaps of it.

*Smokey Robinson , Cruisin'. Pemps tastic.What else?It'll be a 'miracle ' if I get this done . Hahah.



Wednesday, 19 March 2008


"Give 'em the boot,you know I'm a radical,
Give ,em the boot,the roots ,the reggae on my stereo " *

Went out last night .( Tues ) Cheeky midweek thing. Me, Jeff ,+ Gareth.I went on the Fisher HiFi.Before i get all 'bloggy' I'm gonna bang on a bit about the bike. It's bloody superb.Maybe I'm the right demograph and all that ,I dunno ,but it just feels right .To me.Dead tight ,incisive . I think a bigger set of tyres ,you know the ones,would maybe 'dampen the XC side of its nature,but I really think that could put it up there with the bigger hitters out there . OK ,it's not going to show a clean pair of heels to a VP 10 ,say,but ,dare I say it ,it'd be up there with the meta. Last nights ride was 'very XC' ,and basically dry,so it was in its element,and I'm stretching metaphors here but whilst there are differences in the Fisher and the Commencal they do both get the job done. It's just that the Meta feels like big old axe that could smash it's way through the undergrowth if you wanted it to ,whereas the Fisher is more like a surgeons scalpel . Making precise cuts ,efficiently carving it's way across the trail.The similarity between the two is that they both seem to have a bottomless pit of travel ,the faster they get ,the more they swallow it up.It's back to the old adage , theyre both great bikes and depending on the type of ride one could perform 'better' than the other.
As Gareth once said,"How many bikes do you need?
However many you already have , + 1 ".
In my case ,+ 2.

OK ,the ride . Jeff and Gareth both came here ,8.00. It was already , i thought , quite cold . Jeff ,being a geordie was complaining of hot flushes. We set out through the estate and in ,literally 3 mins we're in the surrounding countryside. A lift over a gate and we're climbing through the farmland towards the 'Turpin'. It's a local lump type thing. It's already dark ,with sporadic nearly full moon , as we climb for a few minutes on a narrow farm doubletrack,warming up nicely. Its a blast downhill on the swoopy trail ,riding in our lights ,to the back edge of Garswood near Seneley Green.I've only ever been around here in daylight ,with the kids in tow.Amy ,who's 6 ,stacked here last summer . She drama queened it a bit ,but hey , you gots to learn. Anyway ,we're flying. Theres no defined edge to the trail ,and jeffs local knowledge pays dividends as Gareth and I are in the field picking cauli's. Or was it broccoli?
20+ mins or so and we arrive at Carr Mill Dam. Again with Jeff on point ,it's a blast , around the lake for a few laps ,with an excursion on some sweet singletracks through the woods.I had a minor 'moment ' as my lights flicked off. They've been on the blink . Jeff has loaned me a lamp so that by a process of elimination i can determine which bit is knacked . They'd been OK ,and now are fully on again,so I figured I couldve just knocked them. Or something. We have a min looking over to the bridge engineering works . Being in the building game I can appreciate a nice scaffold,but anyway. It's cold when you stop . Jeff's quite literally steaming.He looks like the ready brek advert.
We head back ,another half lap of the lake and then we're on the farmtrail again . Bit more of the same with a few tricky bits where the land rover has left it's mark.The moons peeping out . Good job really ,as my lights are out again. I'm not imagining it. I switch my light off ,and turn on Jeffs. It's the same dance. Intermittent offery.It doesnt spoil the fun . In a way ,it makes it.
We get over to the blue hills.It's a smallish lump of slag left over from the local steak and kidney mines.At this point we could have gone 'directly' home. It's only 10 or 15 mins back. My lights are proper on the blink, we've done 10 mile ( i guess)it's pitch black ,albeit with sporadic moonlight .....So let's have a play round here then go over to Billinge woods. Ace.It's kinda on the way.

Billinge ,you might know ,has a beacon on top of Billinge Hill. The highest point in Merseyside , BTW . Billinge village is already quite high up but we still have quite a yomp to get up to the top.A short climb on singletrack opening up to whoop down to a small cutting.Lights off ,mid descent. Brill. The cutting comes up quick and I fluff it getting out the other side . It was quite tricky with a steppy slab thing ,but I just happened to stall in the big ring . Honest. Gareth ,on his singlespeed cant use that excuse. I dont know what was wrong with him . It must have taken 5 or 6 repeated attempts before he cleaned it.
Now the climb kicks in proper . Not too bad ,especially with the adrenaline effect of nightriding to help. It's better than Red Bull.We crest near the top,Billinge Hill and the beacon still a bit above and behind us. It's a lovely view. In the distance I can see the chipboard factory chimney I was working at the other day all the way over in Kirkby. Up a bit more and the view opens out in front of us. Pit stop. Gareth cracks out the whiskey and penguin biscuits as the moon comes out from behind the clouds.Turn the lights off for a minute.
We're still not at the top . Not too far now .The last steep bit ,a few more cranks.The view from up here is fantastic. 360 deg'. I've just googled it. It's 179m at the summit.

We take it all in for a few minutes ,but it's not warm enough to be hanging about and Jeff's got one more thing to show us. We drop down off the lump into blubell woods.I used to spend a lot of time up on Billinge Hill as a kid.My mum always called the nearby woods ,'bluebell woods'. So that's what I'm having. Anyway, we drop down under the trees. To my horror a bunch of vandals have built dirt jumps in the woods ,senselessly stamping over the beautiful periwinkle blue flora of my innocent youth,and chopping up fallen tree limbs to use as foundations for their sick fun.I may have to return here in daylight to assess this situation further.With a DH bike .

We check out the jumps ,working our way down and out of the woods.Superman seatgrabs are out of the question as it's past 10 o'clock and the 'one more jump' law applies.A short spin on the road ,light blinking ,blinking light ,into Billinge ,turn left and a fast spin down to Garswood and home.
All in all a top top ride. A place on my doorstep I've not been to in years and a good bit of fun to boot.
Hot Chocolate /Jaffa cakes. Perfect.
Bit more next week I think.

* Rancid.' Out come the Wolves ' ,Ska/punk. (Skunk?)Two tone ,black /white ,light /dark ,on - off . Intermittent.

Sunday, 16 March 2008


If the wind were colours
And if the air could speak
Then whistle as the wind blows
Whistle as the wind blows....*

Rivi.Usual thing these days. Drove up with a car full of bikes for an action packed ,fun filled , demo type day. Well ,half day. You dont wanna be putting folk off.

In the back,'for evaluation purposes 'I had the Commencal Meta 5.5.1. I still think it's a dead good bike ,but it's been acting the goat the last few weeks . 'Goat's' a bad analogy as ,of all things,it's been skipping uphill. Not in a mountaingoat skree skipping style,more a rear mech skipping style. More of that later. Also in the car I had the Fisher HiFi Deluxe.Chris was to bedemo-ing that. He already has a Gary Fisher hardtail and was interested to give it a whirl .Bringing up the rear is the workhorse of the bunch.The GT Avalanche 2.0.Steve was trying that out . He has a few bouncy bikes in his quiver and is thinking about doing the ultra trendy rigid singlespeed thing.Obviously the GT has gears , that work ,and suspension forks that sometimes work,so he's at least half way there.

Steve and I met Gareth, Andy Rudd,and Chris on the road to the top barn.Usual thing,bit of fettling,and away.
Slight variation to the route we've done of late.Headed down and away from the barn and turned left,heading in the general direction of Horwich school.A bit more of a warm up than usual before the long climb up ,behind the back of the houses then up towards Wilderswood and up the final tarmac section on The Old Rake climb. A tough qtr mile or so of a 1:4 taking you up to the top car park on the corner of Wilderswood with a stiff breeze getting up as we crested onto the bridleway .We had a minute whilst Steve put a bit more air in the GT and then carried on to the corner of Wilders Moor for the climb across to the mast Rd.This was quite a toughie. Every week can be a bit different.Cold ,windy ,slippy muddy. This week we had the lot. Ace.There's this tricky cutting that wheelgrabs for fun about a third way up.On the best of days it can be a challenge. Today it was too much of a challenge.It was the conditions,man. Yea ,whateva.

"Those 29"ers look bigger in real life .**

We waited here at the top ,'for a blow'.It wasnt half 'getting up'.Really strong wind ,not gusting,just 'on'.We got back on ,with the wind head on ,and headed to the leg( I dont like to mention) was dragging a bit ,but then if it was to give me grief anywhere it'd be here. It's a right proper slog to the top ,not helped by the fact that ITV have got the road shut for 'essential work' on the TV mast. What is essential about TV ,eh ? EH ?

So we 'divert' across the moorland battlefield ,which actually wasnt too bad.If you dont count the freezing headwind,sticky mud,and foot deep boggy bits.Well ,it's all a laugh.


So we head on ,beyond the mast and turn left toward the stoops.It's a top downhill at the best of times,so today would be no exception.just over the rise at the start proper ,it was very very windy. Very windy.The top section consists of a series of gulleys and little drops. Nothing usually too challenging,and still quite flattish,rolling,but with a crosswind that was almost literally pulling your helmet off the top of your head,it was right tasty.Garth (that's a typo ,but i'm leaving it in ),went off to play with Andy and I hot on his heels. It fairly speeds up fairly quickly,but if you 'let go' it's one of the best downhills there is.I had a bit of sideways action ,but being dead good ,i whipped it back in ,with a satisfying smile to accompany a textbook manouvere.No ,really . Get lost.
Chris and Steve seemed to be practising their textbook moves also ,although I'm not sure whether or not they'd brought out the wrong books.Chris especially seemed to have brought a book on surfing. Whatever works . Dood.

Ok ,onto the lane .Decision time.R and Lead Mines ,or L and over to the gardens. Gardens .It's a winner every time.
A bit of 'step class' followed by some 'off piste' action through the trees.

We carried on down through the gardens taking in the bombhole and heading high up towards the grotto . It looks like for safety reasons the man has fenced this area off . It's only an unprotected 25' drop . I dunno. The HSE ,eh ? Nevermind . We scope it out anyway , and decide it's not to be opting for some steps to the side. Not for me though . The meta's got a flat. You know it can happen to anyone.
No big deal . Give's Gareth time to mess about .

Puncture fixed ,we're off. I'm not saying we were lost ,but we werent exactly where I thought . A slight 'diversion' required.Over a woefully inadequate barbed wire fence and across 'steve McQueen pasture' to bring us out within a few minutes of the caff.
Tea ,toast."falling in luff again" (on the piano !) You can guess the rest...
Great ride.Mini epic.With only minimal 'leggery'( I dont like to mention it )
Smiles all round.No rain,not too cold,no pike. Shock horror.
Meta update: I think it needs a 'mech hanger'. The gears were acting up again and under closer scrutiny the mech isnt hanging dead plumb.Could have had a knock. I'll check the textbook.
Oh,and the second hand tube I put in went down again.Ace.
GT update: OK ,it is what it is ,a capable entry level bike ,it rides great ,stops well but the fork could be best described as adequate.I'm sure Steve has some other adjectives to describe them.
*That's R.E.M. "Wendell Gee" Folk-ey.
** Just to clarify . It's 26".

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Todays ride:

Drove up to the car park ,Rivington.I picked up Steve and we met Jeff and Stu.Usual thing ,0900.Weather OK.Ambled up to the pike ,off the back ,good.Meta brake required a good pump . Hmm.

Steve rode the Fisher HIFI Deluxe. Said he enjoyed it. "Very XC", He said.

We didnt do a great lot to be honest. Down the Ice Cream Run. Flying on the commencal. It is good at that kind of thing. Too good? maybe. I rode it fairly hard into that tricky first turn ,jumping off and into that banked turny bit. Just does it . No bother. Off the steppy tarmac slab. Hard .Fairly. No bother. I dunno . Sometimes i like a bit of bother.That said my sciatic's not doing too bad . On the bike at least. Might've been a different story if i'd gone that hard on the Axis *.Maybe the meta's a bike for guys approaching 40 with a raft of life niggles.I'll let you know when I get there . Haha.

Cafe.Toast etc.

Back to the car . Short and sweet.

* Axis. A bicycle from another time. "Handles like a fish",someone once said.
"stiff as a varnished eel"I just said.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


I don't care what's right or wrong
I wont try to understand
Let the devil take tomorrow
Cause tonight I need a friend.
Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrows out of sight
And it's sad to be alone
Help me make it through the night *

Just got back from a night ride. Just a dead local one. Round the 3 sisters and over to Viridor wood . Bit o this ,bit o that.

Did n't quite go to plan . It was a lovely night too. Cold ,but clear. Nice.All looking quite promising.

4 of us out.Me ,Gareth , Stu ,and Jeff.We set off at 8.00 into Bryn .It's about 5 mins .That's about as far as we got. The gremlins were out to get us. Jeff punctures. No big deal . We all get punctures. Dont we?

So Jeff fixes the puncture . Bit of banter ,no big deal,and we're away again.

On through the industrial estate ,a lap of the go-kart track,an old school inspired bit of 'off-piste'through the trees. It's all looking good .

Thwup thwup thwup. Jeff again.Ace.
"Did you check the tyre for thorns?"

Ok .That's it .Two in a night is enough. Stick a new tube in .Sorted. Well ,stick one in that i've had rattling around in my backpack forever.

Ok ,we're away. Over to Viridor wood in Bamfurlong.A nice fast bit of open singletrack winds down to Bolton Rd.Scalextastic.Going good now. warming up .'Cause it was cold as.Like I said,cold,clear.Stars. Nice.Leaving the gremlins behind.

A 'lap' of viridor and we head back over to the 3 sisters.

Jeff again.

We must have run right into the gremlinsw again. I bet they couldnt believe their luck.It's not proper flat though.It's one of them." Change it/pump it/change it /pump it ? "

"Pump it"

Time to head for home.

We stop a few times whilst Jeff does his best Chester zoo chimp impersonation and eventually get back over near the 3 sisters.

Gaz's turn. His bloody crank's hanging off.The gremlins have undone it whilst we watched Jeff The sneaky bastards.

So that's it.Well nearly.After that my lights started to act up.On a bit, off a bit.The lamp unit's got a duff connection. Or something.........

* Everyones done this song,but it's actually by kris kristofferson.One of my mums favourites.
Ok then , TIM

Monday, 3 March 2008


'It's like a discipline without the discipline of all of the discipline........
It's like a culture without the effort of all the culture.......
It's like a movement without the bother of all of the meaning......' *

We had a little tootle over Rivington last week,me back on the Meta ,Jeff on the Hi Fi,no pics as it was not a camera friendly day,ie wet,but we had a good spin all the same . He's had the Fisher this week to give it a whirl some more.
This is his bit:

Hello there
Right then, been having a bit of this GF Hi-Fi that i borrowed. As you know, had it over Rivi/Belmont with you last week and today had it around Carr Mill, a few ups and downs in the woods, lot's of singletrack overBillinge and up to the woods, down the roots and rocks, a bit of road,around the turpin and home. All in all, a nice piece of kit. So i thoughti would provide some feedback which in turn you may want to pass to Alan.

1) Climbs very well, almost glides along.

2) Once you hit the rocky stuff or cobbles, you need to step up the pedalpower. At that point, the suspension again glides over the rough stuff.You would think you were on solid singletrack trails. If you don't pedal through, the bike feels light and difficult to steer.

3) On the drops over some gnarly roots, it handles very well. Again, pedal through and the suspension acted as though i was on an even surface

.4) At times, you would think the suspension is'nt working, or it did'nthave any. You just forget that its there, but it's actually doing a very effective job.

5) The RP2 has two positions, but I can't see much difference between thetwo. I assumed one was a lockout of sorts and the other allows lots of bounce. They both actually seem very plush and the rear of the bike compresses equally with either setting.

6) Against the Commencal Meta 5.5, it is no match, especially when descending. However, that's doing the GF a bit of injustice, as the suspension just keeps working away unnoticed. But the Meta needs taming and at times i needed to throttle back on it. It's such a powerful bike.

Obviously, the Meta has a very good spec - far better than the GF - and one critisism of the GF is the SRAM X7 shifters. I can't get the chain on the big ring which is a pain when descending on singletrack so i'll have a look at that. The Juicy brakes also feel very soft and spongy.

7) Tyres. Less grip on the Bonty's than i am used to. Does'nt give much confidence in the muddy conditions out there at the moment.Overall, a decent bit of kit, but the shifters need looking at and those tyres....I'll be having it out on a couple of more runs this week on night rides.Will provide further feedback then. Thinking of doing Rivi Thursday night,so if ya up for it bonny lad...

cheers Jeff. I thought it was just me and tyres.That's a fair point about the rear shock. It didnt seem to change much in either position .That said ,it worked well in either position. Hmm.

OK , See if i cant 'nip out for a loaf ' tomorrow night.

No pix ,so instead a vintage Fisher ad.80s tastic.

* 'Movement'. LCD Soundsystem.