Sunday, 29 June 2008


It doesnt look steep on the telly

It doest look boggy on the telly.

"Look at me.I'm on the telly !"

I'm not anti-society, society's anti-me
I'm not anti-religion, religion is anti-me
I'm not anti-tradition, tradition is anti-me
I'm not anti-anything, I just wanna be free
I'm not anti-Reagan, Reagan's anti-me
I'm not anti-government, government's anti-me
I'm not anti-politics, politics is anti-me
I'm not anti-anything, I just wanna be free*

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
Ronald Reagan.

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for every thing I do.
Robert Heinlein

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
George Washington

We, like you, are staunch believers in the freedom of the individual and the rule of a fair and just law. These principles are shared with our European partners and with the wider Atlantic community. They are the bedrock of the Western World.

Life is holy, and every moment is precious. Jack Kerouac


Minor ,not even worth mentioning spot of bother on the ride today.
I dunno.
I guess we all just want to do our own thing.
You just cant win.

Bit busy right now . I'll write up the near perfect ride later.

* *

Right ,I'm back . It's like becoming unstuck in time.And so it goes.

Picked Jeff up at his house round the corner.I was thinking about riding up Rivi ,but Jeff was pushed for time ,and the weather was threatening ,so ,hey ho.

Didnt park at the usual barn rd,instead parked just out of Horwich opposite the school.Almost immediatly bumped into a stricken biker.Andy.He was parked next to us and was already on his way home due to a broken rear derailleur.Hmm.That's MTBing.

We set off up the boneshaker climb behind the school.A tough warm-up,made harder by extreme mugginess,and now we're briefly joined by the guy with the pimped out airborne ,only today he's on a pimped Whyte PRST1 thing.Bonkers bike . The jury's out.We get to the top bridleway under the pike ,have a blow,and go our seperate ways.I've got my leggings on and I'm regretting it.Jackets off.
We head towards the pidgeon tower ,Matt on the 29"er passes us ,no gassing today,and we swing to the right ,avoiding the 'Ice Cream Run' ,sneaking round the back of the mast on it's blindside along Catter Nab.Only a few weeks ago we were on this bridleway when I was out on the Muddy Fox.Today I'm riding the Commencal .Slightly different. It just kind of floats over this stuff.Is this a good thing?Not if you're into masochism.Arent all cyclists just a bit masochistic?

The weather was just full of idle threats in the end.It was a cracking day.Not mad hot ,a bit muggy,a bit cloudy ,but OK.We'd had a lot of rain in the night . It woke me up about 5am.Bouncing.As we passed the bottom of Hordern Stoops ,the mast now behind us,we had to go through a big puddle,swollen to pond like proportions right across the trail.I was having a few doubts about the next bit.

Spitlers Edge.

What the hell. It's only mud.

It is notoriously gloopy up here.It wasnt as bad as I've seen it though.The first bit kids you.Theres an initial climb that flattens a touch and up ahead you can see the top.Still a way to go.Then you get there , - and there's some more.Not easy when in places your wheel sinks in up to the axle. We make OK time ,considering ,and soon get to the start of the 'slabs'.4' long pavers ,laid end to end ,snaking across the moorland like giant dominoes.A bit easier.Just before we hit them though ,there's a short ,not too steep downhill.Loose and cobbly rocky.I set the flux capacitors on the meta and try to get it up to the magical 88mph ,leaving Jeff in a trail of nuclear waste from Mr Fusion.

I dont know what happened next . I think the terrorists got me.It was all over by the time Jeff got there.Some kind walkers had put traffic calming measures into place. They must be getting better at it because the front wheel was eaten up by a huge gap. I stopped. Well ,the bike did.88-0 in a heartbeat.I didnt need to time travel to find out if my knee would be hurting later.It is.THIS is MTBing.It's OK ,I have another one on the other side.

After flapping around like a one legged turkey at christmas,i eventually managed to get out of the SPD.It was all going so well.Jeff crested the brow just as I got up and missed the whole thing.You snooze you lose.

We hit the slabs .Proper flying now.Stopping only to 'yeild' to a few walkers.More of that later.We see only one other runner up here.It's poles apart from the 'Saturday afternoon at the Trafford centre' Chinese Gardens.

We get to the shelter at Great Hill and 'choc up'.Great views all around.Darwen Tower is clear as a bell and further over towards Ramsbottom we can see Peel Monument.We went there once.I blew up my back wheel.How we laughed.It seems like another life.

Great Hill has a great downhill. Well it would ,wouldnt it?I try for 88mph again .Flying down the first bit to the fence and then on the bridleway heading west(gazing :)towards the moorland that will take us down to White Coppice.The meta's great at this type of thing.I dunno.Maybe too good . If that makes sense?There are a couple of tricky ditch crossings on this bit ,but set the speed on Mr fusion to medium and just unweight the front end and it'll manual over them with it's eyes closed.It's good. But I like to be a little more involved. That said ,on the next bit ,the downhill proper ,it is in its element and really comes alive.It is a load of fun,but the masochist in me misses having my eyeballs shook out.I just end up going faster than I really want to.It seems without limits.And it's not a big heavy bike.How do they do it.It'll turn into a bike test if I tell you how good it goes up .I think with a wind down/ETA style fork instead of just the extended lock-out it'd be perfect.Maybe for 09?

We ride out of the Goyt with big grins ,hopping the bridge like little gambolling lambs.

At the bottom of that killer road climb up to Anglezarke ( yes ? ),we bump into Paul ,who bizarrely worked with Jeff ,but on another floor.Small world. I wouldnt like to have to paint it ,mind.

To avoid aforementoined ,Paul tags along with us on the highly illegal FOOT path between the reservoirs.We yeild to some more walkers and exchange pleasantries.Theyre cool. All very civil.Heading back now just chilling.We pass a hiking scout troop.More of the same.I guess we're all just like minded.Enjoying it.But there's always one.

Passing the Yarrow reservoir on the highly legal bridleway,a good fast open downhill at times,we come upon a horsey type creature.Big thing .Like a dog,but weighing 800lbs with a spade on the end of each leg.Now ,the last time i happened upon one of these devils beasties i slowed right down and dingled my tiny dingler at it.Well,not tiny.Anyway ,it startled the defenceless fire breathing thing,and I was chastised by the pilot for breaking protocol ,ssssssssooooo,this time I slow right down and do nothing ,passing very wide.And it doesnt like that .More chastisement .I apologise for my part in this ,and the lady,although Very middle class ,was OK with it (she says " make a noise next time " ? )and we carry on,but some guy walking along the reservoir edge just cant leave it at that and calls us "babies" and cant we ride some "proper " routes.I'm not even dressed like Jane Fonda this week. What is wrong with people?Everyone just wants to do their own thing.It's a comment on society that I cant (thankfully for you ) be bothered going into.There's two sides to every story.Read this if arsed.

Ok ,back to the cars .Paul's parked at the same place as us.Crazy.Hope he comes again.And the other guy ,and the other .....

You just cannot mention Ronald Reagan enough times in a ride report can you?

*Suicidal Tendencies.Two sided politics. Mike Muir ,punk rock poet.
**Time ,being abstract ,may appear less to you at this point than it did to me.

Sunday, 22 June 2008


First ,go BMXing.
No big wheels today.Took the kids to Coppull BMX track.Just messing about.
Videos up here.
Just a small clip of Luke,8,pumping the doubles.
Here's Adam ,honing his downhill technique.

You can navigate from these .There's a couple more.
Tune in next week for some big wheeled action.

Monday, 16 June 2008


Don't talk of dust and roses
Or should we powder our noses?
Don't live for last year's capers
Give me steel, give me steel, give me pulsars unreal....*



Sneaky Monday evening ride.Matthew ,my brother ,had asked me to introduce some buddies of his to the never ending delights of mountain biking. No problem.
Haigh plantation in Wigan was the venue.Meet up after tea and play it by ear from there.
Jeff and I rode up from our end and met the guys on the edge of the trees.Matthew was riding the demo GT avalanche that luckily was the perfect size .For his wife.She's about 5' 2". He's closer to 6'2". Hmm . Hey ho.It was OK with the seat up , but he deffo needs a large. His mate Lee was on a fairly brand new , virtually the same GT avalanche. The only difference being cable operated disc brakes Vs the hydraulic ones on the other. Paul , the other lad ,was on a similar ballpark halfords carrera. It has to be said all three of the hardtails here are representative of the lower end of the MTB ladder,but that said ,they are all perfectly ok for 'proper ' mountainbiking.Cheap bikes arent cheap these days.Later on I had a little spin on Paul's Carrera and the handling's spot on. Dead neutral and ideal as a starter bike to build confidence on. Miles better than the stupid old muddy fox Iwas on the other week.Relatively speaking.
We set off up through the treesI'm trying to pick a route that's not too hardcore. There are a few deadly drops in here . So we'll avoid them. It's mostly uphill to the hall anyway.We meander up .The trails are bone dry ,for a change,which is good.The pace is not too frantic ,but still it's doesnt take too long,even with the occasional sneaky double back.I throw in a techy climb,OK ,dry techy climb ,but still fairly tough and these young lads just wallop up it . No sweat.
Must be those dead good cheap beginners bikes ,eh ?
We hang about up near the hall for a bit.Feeding the midges.Still nice and sunny. lovely evening.I should've pointed out to the lads that mountainbiking is usually about being soaked to the skin on the side of Arthurskargilldale in a force 10 gale waiting for the medivac chopper.Ah well.

Mostly downhill from here.Few sneaky ups ,but mostly.Lee said he wasnt quite 'feeling' the bike yet.It's a confidence thing that comes with time.We wind down through the trees,fast at times . I'm trying to slow it down a bit .The lads are doing OK though.A couple of the bits thrown into the mix can catch you out ,but they seem to take it all in their stride.
The drop from the canal is a good example. Climbing up earlier it seems flattish. But coming back the other way it's just off horizontal enough that you dont have to pedal and it's dead easy to get up to a good lick.I love this run. I suppose i know it very well and feel like a sesh. Open up the taps on the Meta and it's away.It's what it's designed for . And more ,obviously. I was sure I'd put some space inbetween myself and the others but when it gets to 2 mins and I'm getting cramp in my shutter finger i feel quite smug. When it gets to 4 mins I start to think " Uh oh ".
Matthews decided to headbutt a tree, a problem i thought he grew out of as a small boy, and Paul has decided that the perfect time to remove his back wheel is mid-air on one of the drop-offs. Ace.This is MTBing.
We meander some more,still heading 'south'.Jeff and I have no lights ( tsk tsk),so we need to blast. Not long now. The classic 'one more drop'. It's going off.
"Come on in .Your tea's ready".
"just one more drop mam."
Kinda my fault. I was leading.Slightly steeper bit than previous.
You know . The usual.It could've been worse,as they both were without helmets ( TSK TSK TSK ),but ,in a nutshell , Lee grabbed too much front brake. " Trigger happy " He called it.
So the bike stops....
It's a right of passage really.
Shame about the now egg shaped back wheel though. And it was all going so well.Hmm.5 mins from their car. Hope it's not put them off.Like I said. Could've been worse.
I've got to ride home.

Back up the canal.Still not dark.Midges.Feeding swifts.Karma.

I really enjoyed it. Thanks lads.Come again.

* Bowie, Big Brother.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


If I wait for just a second more,
I know I'll forget what I came here for,
My head was so full of things to say,
But as I open my lips all my words slip awayand anyway,
I can't believe you want to turn the page,
And move your life onto another stage,
You can change the chapter you can change the book,
But the story remains the same
if you'd take a look.*

This weeks ride. Short and sweet

Drove up to the top barn.Met Andy.Rode the usual up to the pike.Usual. Bumped into Matt on his blazing singlespeed.Stopped to chat and put the world to rights. Dont tell the Singletrack crowd .They wouldnt believe you anyway.


On the pike met an antipodean colonial type called Grant. Bonzer.

Off the back.On the Meta this week. Bombing. Too easy on a big bike.Forgot to turn the back end 'on ' . Hmm . Didnt have that problem last week.

Tootled over to Wilderswood to feed the midges.And back to the car. Easy.


* Yazoo.Nobody's Diary.But what was the album ? er....



Ps . This weeks dilemma. Detail our ride and risk thronging marauding hordes of riders descending upon our own little bit of utopia.

For that to happen someone would have to be reading this twaddle.

Sunday, 8 June 2008


"Everyone around
love them, love them
Put it in your hands
Take it take it
There’s no time to cry
Happy happy
Put it in your heart
Where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine" *

Todays ride was a classic . In every sense. A good ride starts the night before . Prepping.A tweak and a prod ,a squirt of lube.I was a bit apprehensive/excited.Not done the long haul up to Rivington and back for a while and to make it even tastier I was doing it on the old bike.


Set out about 7.45 and rode from ours up to Hindley lights .Met Jon.Didnt seem too taken aback by the fact that I was 'full retro',trackies tucked in socks ,big polystyrene lid ,the lot.Strictly speaking ,we didnt have camelbaks in the '80s.
We went up the beautiful Hindley high St ,past the swanky restaurants,and on through Borsdane woods ,up to Rivvy .Fairly chilling.Not booting it anyway.The heat was already picking up.Trackies and big polystyrene lid probably not a great idea.
Met the gang. Gareth ,Rick ,and Andy.Also not overly phased .Are they used to this type of behaviour from me?Usual climb felt a bit tougher than usual. Not quite romping up like on the Fisher.You'd think a basic steel MTB with no suspension and minus all the extra modern accoutrements would be lighter than a 5" travel XC trail bike. It's not .And the gears are tougher.Much taller.
Life was so hard in the unremebered '80s.

Up through the gardens to the pidgeon tower,usual dance,Pike,saw Tim up there with the kids.Not me ,the other one.
Off the back .Used to it now on the muddy fox.Dry and easy.Past the pike cottage ,Wilders moor,slog,saw Craig Burrows,mast , proper toasty now ,on to ,Hordern Stoops .

Now this is a downhill.The first 'proper' downhill i ever did on a mountainbike.A Muddyfox courier ,would you believe?If anything shows up twitchy wack geometry on a bike,this will .And it did. I never thought Cove handjobs had such wack angles but the way Rick almost implanted his face down a bunny hole on the top section ,there can be no other explanation.Unless he just had a sudden urge to perform a 'superman'.Hmm

At the bottom my arms were PUMPED.Big 4 finger levers work well and the brakes are good enough within the bikes limitations ,but compared to a modern disc set up or even a Vbrake they are so hard .Tiring in a good way.Not.Ah well,just dont go downhill as fast.The bike's so short it's a doddle getting your arse off the back.

Onto the lane at the bottom,turn left back up to the Pidgeon tower.More hard work.Feeling it a bit.Getting a pounding on the trail.This is where ya 5" trail bikes excel.As hard as it is ,it's still OK to downhill on an old klunker ,but on this type of bumpy path it's so counterproductive.This is where a susser is actually better.Uphill ,not downhill.Controversially this flies in the face of every 'hardtail Vs Full suss'article i've ever read.So there. It's Alans theory . If it proves to be wrong I'll conveniently remember that.

Pidgeon tower.What's next. Ice cream run.What else?Another killer downhill that will show up a bad bike.So them Soma's aint too hot either. Dont know what dance Andy Rudd was doing down there. Break dancing ?It couldve been worse. He couldve had those silly shopping bike handlebars on too.He'll be sore tomorrow.Hope it's not too bad.Them rocks bite.

I nearly had second thoughts about dropping off the slab ,but seeing how it was actually the second time on the courier ,that'd make it third thoughts,which dont seem right.So I just went for it. Hell of a knock . Is this what mountainbiking was like?I dont remember it being this hard . And the brakes are proving tough again.At least I've got my polystyrene hat on.

Luckily ,Jon got a pinchy flat halfway down . Fixing it gave us ample opportunity to use the Ice cream run to it's full extent.


Not quite the end of a perfect ride. Not for Jon and I at least.

Went past the cars with the lads ,kissed goodbye,and headed home. Down through Blackrod ,Aspull ,through haigh hall ,classic,and then jumped on the canal in Wigan.Split off from Jon at the canal bridge.Few more miles for him.Couple for me .Dinners ready. Bacon butties.

*REM. Shiny happy people.
More betterer pics at:
oh ,and a video at:
Midweek post script.
Still fairly 'orf me napper' with this ride. What indefineable 'thing' is it that you occasionally get from a ride.Fairly normal route.Bit more mileage.Vit D over load .Mid-life crisis time travel aspect of recreating one's youth .I dunno. Good though.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


"one finger ,one thumb ,one arm ,one leg ,one nod of the head ,
keep moving" *

Click on these and you'll be able to zoom right in and read them.

If ever I'm not available simply memorise this....

* Miss Broderick. St Judes. C.1975

Haigh Hall Revisited

"Jungle Boogie
Jungle Boogie
Get It On
Jungle Boogie
Jungle Boogie
Get It On
Jungle Boogie
Jungle Boogie
Jungle Boogie
Get Down With The Boogie
Jungle Boogie
(Come & Shake It Around)" *

^ Haigh Hall earlier today

Tim switched to instructional mode today, as he took out Toby and Ralph (aged 15 & 11, heirs to the Alans Empire) on a trek through darkest Haigh Hall which more resembled Borneo, it was that overgrown. Toby rode Julie's Scott Contessa (because I sold his GT) and Ralph picked up what will be a new demo bike for us, a Commencal Combi Disc (because I sold his Scott). "When can we go again" they just asked in unison!

^ The Combi and the Hi-Fi

^ A blurry Courier

^ "Now then Ralph, to increase DOF use a smaller f/stop. With a normal lens in use (35 to 60 mm), you go in to Manual or to the Aperture Priority Mode and select a small f/stop such as f/11. With a medium telephoto lens in use (80 to 135 mm) select f/16 or greater, and with a long telephoto (200 mm and up) select f/22 or f/32 to get an overall sharpness. In the Aperture Mode the camera will take care of selecting the corresponding shutter speed. In Manual Mode, be certain for each f/stop added one shutter speed is subtracted. Be aware of shutter speeds too slow to arrest camera or subject movement. A tripod may be necessary. This method can create a great intentional blur with extended DOF. Got that?"

^ The latest addition to our demo fleet - Commencal Combi Disc in Small

^ Toby, apres Toast

* Kool & the Gang, 'course.
Images © Crappy iPhone