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.