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......

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