Sunday, 25 January 2009


"A celebration
Of your teenage station
This Inexperience, sweet, delirious.
Supernatural, superserious.
Inexperience, sweet, delirious.
Supernatural, superserious,Wow." *
Superb ride today.
Decent turnout. I picked Jeff up with a bike full of cars, our Daniel went round for his mate ,Wig and we drove up to the top barn road to meet Gareth and Andy . The fun and games started early . Dan and I left ours in separate cars at the same time . We both went roughly the same distance to pick-up ,and then set off for Rivington. Logic dictates we would be at our meeting spot at around the same time . If anything ,Dan would be there before me. When I got up there and there was no sign I thought “ Here we go”.
As it happened Dan had gone to our old usual meet at the Yew Tree. Doh . Kinda my fault .
A bit more of a faff than usual then .
All present and accounted for we set off. I’m on the new carbon Cannondale Rize and keen to give it a proper go . I took it out a few weeks ago on my own ,but to be honest didn’t really flog it. I’d hoofed it up on my own and wasn’t wanting to get too far from civilisation.
Instead of going straight up balls out up the hill ,we headed down and away towards the waters edge of Rivington Resi and to Liverpool Castle beyond . A good warm up before the slog.
Wig is on his first ever MTB outing and riding the Carbon Moto. The incredible hulk. Last week at Delamere it seemed a bit too big of a bike ,so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s OK for a typical Rivi spin. A few long climbs ,and some good downhill blasts. Our Daniel is on my regular demo the Commencal Super 4. It’s the perfect ish bike for round here . If you want a 4”er that is. Tight and flicky . Like a big BMX with a bit of boing.
The climbing starts at the back of the school at Horwich and on behind the houses past the field of llamas ( honest )and on towards Wilders wood. A fairly relentless climb . We stop to disrobe before the final assault. I’m ‘in training’ for the cyclo-X thing in a few weeks so after a bit of a spin to the bottom edge of the woods I open up the Rize for the last killer climb up to Georges Lane. It’s a phenomenal result . Obviously you still have to pedal the damned thing ,but it responds so well . Like the Rush from a few weeks back ,but with more bounce you’d be forgiven for thinking it’d be less ,er , efficient . It’s not. I’m blowing hard on the very last bit ,my arms and chest are caving in with the effort,my heart is ready to ring for a taxi . I remind myself that this is what I need. No I don’t. I’m definitely over 100% of what is a sensible heart rate for a 40 year old as I get off at the top, legs jellified ,basking in self inflicted pain and glory at the top of my own personal K2. The cyclo-X race is only 2 hrs + 1 lap at close to max. I’ve just done about 4 mins.

Props to Wig for getting back on and honking up the last bit.
We next take the 'obvious' uphill across Wilders Moor to Humphreys Ditch. I'm just spinning now . Athletes would call this the recovery phase ,or something. We all have a crack at the now heavily eroded ditch and all fail miserably ,hanging our heads in shame.Big pointy rock excuse features heavily.
Our Dan and Jeff set off up the second part of the climb getting the drop on the rest of us. Dan's a good 50m or so up ahead when I set off.Time for another 'go' on the Rize. I up the pace just a smidge again and once again it doesnt disappoint.It's a bit squishy,the trail that is,but the tyres seem to be OK. I've had a bit of an issue with them though.Yesterday the back tyre was flat.I thought it'd picked up a puncture at Delamere so I grabbed a tube to bang in . As I squeezed the tyre to get it off the rim it 'parped'.I then realised it was full on UST tubeless. Doh . I pumped it straight back up and it held ,but I cant help thinking it needs some sealant squirting in. It's a matter of time before it gets 'parped' again on a blunt edge. I think. Theyre gripping/cleaning well though.Good.

Dan's conducting his own tyre test up ahead on the Super4. The verti' on the back needed replacing ,so I've fitted some 2.4 Conti folders . 'Mountain Kings'. He reckons theyre ace.They look aggresive and up the sticky climb are shedding mud very admirably.

Just as it's hurting I give it that little bit extra . 110% again. I'll pay tomorrow. As I close on Dan he fluffs the last off camber bit ,just as I planned. Bwa hah ha .Like I said though ,you still have to pedal the damned thing.

Time for a breather. We regroup on the tarmac road that leads to the mast.Jeff's feeling a bit under the weather,but there's still no stopping him. Upward to the mast .
Just shy of the TV mast we take a right turn onto the slabs towards Smithills Moor.A fierce crosswind is hitting us,trying to push us into the mire. Cold too. Wigs doing well on the Moto . It's a lot of bike to lug up here.Mind you ,considering the complete absence of gears on their singlespeeds ,Gareth and Andy are doing OK too. I can see the simplistic logic of a singlespeed ,I just cant see me on one. If you excuse the pun.

At the end of the slabs we turn right and into the wind,making the downhill a bit harder than usual. Seats down . Atomic batteries to power. I want to get out of my comfort zone again so with a bit of big-ring action I wind it up again. It's gloopy and rutty and windy.Hard work. It's easy to make a mistake when your tired,and I nearly do. A deep steep sided water filled trench across the trail nearly grabs the front wheel. But doesnt. You can get away with murder on a bike like this. I cane it down to the steps,going a bit faster than really makes sense,just holding on.Turbines to speed.Turn and ride down the steps .Thwup thwup. This bike's something else.

Wig's enjoying the other bigger 'dale too. I guess on one hand it's still too much of a bike for this terrain. There's so much in reserve it's unreal. But on the other it's not so stupid heavy that you need a ski lift.

Gareth also rides the steps on his baby singlespeed which I dont think the kids can believe.How dare such old men be so death defying.
Dad and lad copped for the demo ride/cannondale schpeel.He started it. Kid was on a Orange 'Crush '. Cool.Theres a song in there.
Doubletrack bridleways now ,for a short while.Comfort zone is OK too.A few ups ,but well surfaced trails are deffo easier than 6" deep angel delight. We spin along and head towards Horwich quarry .And 'El Scorpioni'.
Up a short rise we take the turn marked 'Georges Ln' and after a fe minutes to scope a 'bivvy' location we set off down the Scorpion. I've not been don this for a hile ,and the last time didnt feel too hot. I think I was on the courier.Or the Axis.Either way I seem to remember being pinged around like a pinball.

The sting in the tail comes up quick.Weight back.The Rize loves it . Too easy . Being masochistic/ old school ,to me, this is a negative.Gareth comes pinging down ,closely followed by the Wigster on the big boy. That was "Proper good",apparently. Andy Rudd nails it on his teeny tiny ickle Soma thingy .Our Danny closely follows him ,walking down.He's punctured.A classic snakebite. Jeff brings up the rear,also walking . He doesnt wish to be stung ,it seems.

Theres a few minutes to kill now as I set about fixing Dan's flat. He takes the Rize up for a go on the last bit ,and Gareth regresses back to childhood for a few goes on the Moto.Going stupid fast ,and vocal with it.It and he is in its/his element.
All sorted we turn onto Georges Lane heading for the Pike. Back to front this week. The climb up the back gives me another chance to flaggelate myself with bike.I'm not really on the limit,but spinning well nonetheless.I've kinda had enough now to be honest.I've 'turned down' the forks for the first time ,dropping the front end.It's the key thing ( I think ) that all these 5" bikes need.It really does plant down the front end and does away with that floaty steering thing.Andy puts in a late charge and crests the top just on my heel. Singlespeed.
Busy today on top . A few more bikers , more than a few walky types. I warn all the kids to be mindful of other trail users as we set off down the front like a herd of marauding mongols.
Ice cream anyone?

Ritualistic saddle dropping ensues near the tower ( pig-e-on ,oink oink),Dan and I heading off on point.A few walkers choose my line for me ,plenty of room .And rocks.No slab for me ,as theyre stood right on the huck. For the first time today the Rize feels on the limit. I'm fairly caning it though. Right down the middle all the way,tummy rumbling.

Cafe . Earl Grey.Got the slab after all. Chocolate sponge .6" thick walloped with cream.Explain to Wig the true meaning of MTB.He's loved it.

Back to car. I can hear music. Mobile phone in the grass. Drove to Coppull to return. Good deed for day.

Bloody capital ride old bean.

* REM. 'Supernatural superserious '.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


"you know that bonzo's always scheming
he'd like you to be scheming too,
oohhhe'd like you to be scheming too
bad time " *

Big group ride today . Took the van down to Delamere Forest .Me ,Jeff ,our Daniel and Danny .Van was rammed with tasty kit.
We were meeting a group of Jeffs buddies from work,a mate of mine from work was bringing some of his mates ,and Stu was coming down with our Matthew. In the region of 20 riders .Mostly beginners. Shouldve done a head count really.

Very lucky with the weather . Forecast gales came to nought.Nice day . Bit chilly . Delamere's always a bit slimey ,and today was no exception. Fun for all . Everyone seemed to be 'mucking in ' ,as it where.
It's not often that I'm genuinely concerned on a ride . Obviously people can get the odd knock ,but there's rarely a potentially life threatening event . Not on my watch ,anyway.
About an hour into the ride ,the group was spread out . Stu and I were 'sweeping up ' the back markers . One of the lads ,Anthony , suffered a mechanical . His chain threw a wobbly . We got separated from the rest in the minute or two it took to fettle . We ended up taking a wrong turn which took us even farther away from the group . I rang Jeff and he directed me to where they were waiting . Down the hill ,turn left ,then up the long climb . Halfway up the long climb I saw one of the gang , Mark , who it would be fair to say is a 'big guy ' at 6'4" and 20 st. He's prostrate at the side of the trail . Having a nap in the style of a little baby . This doesnt look good . We ask him if he's OK ,and to be honest it's a rhetorical question. He looks like shit . White as a sheet and a bit babbly saying he just wants " 10 minutes rest ".
He tells us that halfway up the hill he felt faint and kinda keeled over onto the verge.
After a few minutes and a good drink with a flapjack ( or similar ) we walk up to the top with him . He seemed better later on ,but it just goes to show that if youre not used to MTBing it can be quite an effort . Build up slow.

Things started to go bad after that difficult follow-up hit to "Happy talking talking happy talk"

The ride was very 'stop/starty' ,which suited the group . Everyone seemed to enjoy it . Not as fast a pace as we would normally go at ,but I enjoyed the change of pace . A chillout .
A few jumps , a few bumps . We didnt have to call the helicopter . Result .
We'll try to get a few more in like that .
A quick word on the demo bikes. We took a Cannondale Moto. Not silly heavy at all ,but way too much of a bike for a pootle around the woods . Would've been good on the road gap had anyone stepped up to the plate. My son , Daniel, rode the carbon Rize and declared it to be 'proper good'.
Also loaned out were the other Rize and the Carbon Rush lefty thing. I'd hoped the two guys would have a swap and a jig about ,but once they got their hands on them they didnt want to let go.

Capt Sensible in happier times.

*Bad Time for Bonzo . The Damned.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


"Looking back what I have done
There's lots more life to live.
At times I feel overwhelmed
I question what I can give.
But I don't let it get me down
Or cause me too much sorrow
There's no doubt about who I am
I always have tomorrow" *


We've been riding Cannondale's quite a bit lately. It has to be said theyre pretty good. Got a phone call off Alan on Saturday morning that the new 'keeper' Rize Carbon3 was in. Would I be OK to pick it up . I said I'd have to check my schedule .....

Pictures of these bikes dont really do them justice. They are so nicely put together.They always were. I wanted a Cannondale when I first started out MTBing. They were a funny quirky 'east coast ' thing back then. High bottom brackets and slacker head angles . Funny that . Kinda how modern bikes are now. Apart from the fact they basically didnt exist over here back then ,if you could find one , you couldnt afford it. I couldnt afford one then ,and I cant afford one now. This particular model featured here retails for over £3k.So it'd better be good.

It's probably fair to say 3 grand is just outside what most people can justify spending on a bike. ( A deposit secures and easy payment terms are available . Ahem ). Now , i've ridden some decent kit over the last 18 months or so . A wide selection of Demos. The Commencal meta ( just over £2k) was a blinder , I loved the Fisher HiFi ( under £2k),and the latest commencal super 4 is tight too, if 4" is your thing. Just recently we've had some demos off Cannondale. 3 to be precise. A big ol' Moto , a Rush carbon ,and a Rize ali. Straight out the van you can see/feel theyre something else . I realise i'm gushing praise on them ,but theyre that good . And it's one thing to finish a bike to the nth degree and bling it up ,polish the weld out ( as Cannondale do ) etc ,but these work dead good too. Hard to find fault,really.
I've not really had a proper ride on the big Moto ,so , no comment . Looks the biz . Last week I took out the carbon Rush and was amazed at how good it was . When you first see it it looks to be on the lighter end of things . Certainly it weighs nowt ,and romps up the hills . You'd think there'd be a compromise going downhill ,but razzing down the rocky middle of the Ice Cream Run it didnt feel like it only had 4" of bounce.Super plush . With that mad fork too.
I've had a few goes on the Rize Ali. Mostly local woods-y stuff. ( what Cannondale were famous for ). Again ,hard to fault. Similar in it's 'target demograph' to the Commencal meta ,but definitely a better finished thing. Surprisingly good up and down ,climbing a stupid steep slippery slope with aplomb.Whatever that means.
Andy rode it when we went to Landegla the other week and seemed to like it .Jeff took it up Rivi' and over to Darwen and thought it was great.

Right ,this weeks thing.
Same as the above ,but carbon ,and with better bits. No shrinking violet. Violet was so '90s anyway. Is that lime green? It's pretty close to a lime green Grifter my mate sprayed in the 80's . It was shocking then and it's shocking today . I like it though. Set off with the white bits dangling on it, it's definitely bling bling . Blat blat .
I'm off to Rivi to see what it can do. Maybe everyone's seen the weather report . It's not looking too good as I step out of the door at 0715 ,known in the trade as doing a 'Wyatt',(although technically a bit late to be the full 'Jay Dubya') and judging by the distinct lack of interest in last nights Email it looks like I'm the only mad bugger out . Jeff's away so he has an excuse . What's yours? See me after class .
Anyway , I'm out on a 3 grand lime green Cannondale . It'd be rude not to.
First impressions riding up the road with the shocks 'off' ,like the Rush of last week,it's a fairly good mile muncher. The schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres are making a racket as I blast down the first hill which bodes well for their off-road ability . We'll see . I'm fussy about tyres ,me.
I take the same route as last week. Out of Wigan on the long climb it doesnt feel as eager ,maybe , as the Rush but when I get up to Rivi barn I'm surprised to find I'm something like 10 mins earlier than last week . How did that happen then ?
As I'm early I do a few extra laps around the top end of the top barn ,looping back to where we usually park on the off chance someone shows . I make a few phone calls. Who am I kidding ? Everyone's in bed. It's a few degrees colder up here . Who can blame them? There are still a few pockets of melting dead slippy sheet ice about. Tasty . I was thinking of heading over to the TV mast and over the back but as I am now on my own ,and a sensible 40 yr old ,I decide against it.
Climbing up through the gardens the Rize feels good . Unlike the other Rize that has a simple lock-out fork ,this one is of the Rockshox 'U-turn' variety and is coming into it's own. These longer forked bikes are all very good, but even though they can be made very light in weight (and it feels light ) I reckon the biggest factor limiting ,or aiding climbing, is a bike's geometry .When the going gets overly steep the front end unweights and it's tricky to steer,sometimes even lifting. I have an ETA marzocchi on my Fisher hardtail that by rights is too long for the bike. I knock it down for the climbs and pop it back out for the downhills . It works well . Just remember to wind it back out when you need to ,eh ? The number of times I've forgot that one .
Still climbing ,up to the top of the Pike, still wound down ,it feels ace . Tricky corner ,etc etc.

It's quite cold on top .Bit of a stiff breeze too. I dont intend hanging around, but end up bumping into an old workmate,so you can guess the rest.
Dropping off the back is becoming a bit of a formality ,but it's a good benchmark descent.At least I remembered to turn out the fork. The top rocky bit is ticked off . Onto the rutted bottom bit . Muddy/slippy this week . A good test for the tyres. They feel OK . That's a first . Me getting on with some tyres on a demo bike.Still a tiny bit of ice near the bottom. Twitchy twitchy . Take it easy.
I turn left and head over to Wilders wood,ice sheets melting on the bridleway. Into the woods more muddy /slippy ,but with roots. Also slippy.
The bike feels tight dropping through the trees. It's a brand new bike ,so it should.
Wilderwood spits you out on a rocky doubletrack 'road'. A good fast downhill with some nice sweepers and one particularly tight right hander that I've overshot more than once.
As the track drops out of the trees I'm aware it's now raining,but I'm not bothered as I'm flying. The brakes ( Avid ) have bedded in and are working well. Just as I'm getting the flow I round the corner before that aforementioned righthander and am greeted,for the want of a better word, by a glacier. Time for some evasive action . I all but deck-it into the trees. This seemed like a good idea until I was tiptoeing across the ice in my ballet shoes. The most difficult part, I find , is maintaining ones dignity when presented with such a problem. I'm thinking "Any minute now , Wrightington Hospital , Hip".
Just dont drop the bike.
And that's basically it ,thank God. I dropped down into Horwich and cold rain, and hoofed it home into a headwind . So that's the ten minutes on the way up then . Hmm.
Bike filthy . Me ,moreso. It transpires that after all this cold weather gritting we've had, the subsequent rain has cuased the roads to have a nice strong coating of salty soup. Yummy. Dont get me going . Salt's vitally important .




I was home before 11 and truly filthy. On the long hoof home the Rize does it's thing as expected. As first rides go it's been good. Arguably I've not really opened it up ,but the conditions werent the best.We've a few good rides planned for the coming weeks . I'll keep you posted.This Cannondale is a 'keeper' so it's available throughout the year to try. Is it the perfect bike?
If you'd like to give it a whirl Email Mr Waverly in the shop .
For more info clickenzi here

MUDDYFOX COURIER. Broken collarbone by me.Photo by Amy . Nose by Dad.
* Greenday. 'I was there' . I really was .The bus driver's social club . They threw beans.
Signing off ,Napoleon Solo.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Cannondale Prophet Scores Perfect 10

It may be a new year, but the Prophet is a tried and tested formula that (luckily for us) just keeps on winning! Having already scooped a hat-trick of test wins in 2008 it seems that wasn't enough as the Prophet add's yet another 10/10 to its name. Here's what MBR magazine had to say...

"The Prophet felt perfect from the off and ready for riding the way these trail bikes need to be ridden. The pivot position is close to ideal, and the bike seems to keep you in the right position wherever you are in the travel. With its neutral riding position it also feels the fastest and most agile. This lightweight persona makes it pure fun to blast on"

"Overall, the geometry and suspension performance are inspiring and urgent and it's easy to put the Cannondale exactly where you want. We rate the Prophet as one of the most fun riding trail bikes available at any price. Cannondale has got everything important dead right. The Prophet is simply a blast to ride fast and is responsive and well balanced out on the trail".

In conclusion: "The Prophet feels superb wherever you take it" - MBR Magazine

Sunday, 4 January 2009


"I am small but I am strong
I'll get it on with you
If you want me to
What else can I do

Everyone would take a cue from anything you do " *

No Jeff today . He's ,er , recuperating. His tumble on the Rize the other day is a bit worse than he first thought. Nothing broken, but he feels like he's been in a car crash.
I'm meeting a few of the lads up at Rivington barn at 0830. I'm taking the Cannondale Rush Carbon out . The first go for me. Last night I've swapped round the brake levers to my way of thinking and fitted a quick release on the seat post clamp. Not exactly straightforward either. The brakes are industry standard Shimano XT. A good set of brakes .Plenty power and feel.Unfortunately they're left and right specific,so ,rather than faff around bleeding the hoses etc , I take off the grips ,slide off the levers and just flip them over. Not technically correct ,but they feel OK. The fluid reservoir is now on the bottom of each lever and gets in the way of the shifters a little. It's a niggle really,but my experience of the Avids and the Formulas on the other bikes with their palindromic ability makes a heap of sense. With a two bolt open clamp on the lever they can be swapped in minutes with no issues at all.
Niggle two is the seatpost clamp. I cant believe you can still buy a mountainbike that doesnt have a quick release lever. Lowering the saddle on tricky descents is such a fundamental part of MTBing.
Both minor issues , I suppose ,that if you're laying down upwards of three and a half grand,could easily be sorted before you leave the shop , but also could easily be sorted in the factory.Anyway...
So , I make an extra special effort and get myself out of the pit extra early. I've decided to ride it up to the hills and back.It all helps. I was having second thoughts as I was leaving our house at around 0715.Very cold.The first few miles were tortuous,the windchill biting my face on the drop into Wigan.I was well wrapped up though and soon warmed up on the long climb out of Wigan .
First impressions riding the Rush. On the road I have it locked out front and rear. It's messing with my head. I know I'm riding a MTB , but the tyres are rolling so well ,it doesnt feel too far behind my roadbike. I might add ,my roadbike is a top of the range model. From 1976. Hmm.
The first time I turn 'on ' the shock is on a little shortcut through some sneaky woods. The ground is baked rockhard ,up a short tricky climb ,no problem , and down the other side. The bike feels tight and flickable. I dont know how much of a complement this is , but , it feels akin to my vintage Diamond Back Axis. Direct , incisive, purposeful,words like that.
So I meet the lads. Gareth , Stu and Andy Rudd have made the effort.It's a few degrees colder up here with bits of sheet ice still here and there. It's gonna be good.
Just before we set off I notice the first problem. The seatpost is slipping down . Ace. That'll be that fundamentally neccessary QR lever I've cobbled on . The brakes dont feel too hot either. That'll be that ' just flip em over and they'll be OK ' setup then. Doubleace. Theyre working though . Probably just a tad better than the old school canti's on my Axis. It's like going back in time .
Not much I can do about it though . We set off up the climb at the back of the hall. The Rush just feels super efficient. The rear shock is in the inbetween 'pro-pedal' setting. the conditions are good though ,so maybe I'm not asking too much of it. The trail is bone dry . The tyres are working well ,perfect even , but I'm sure if it was ' normal ' conditions i.e. muddy mud ,they'd be struggling.
The rest of the climb up is much of the same . Mostly dry with the odd bit of sheet ice. Nothing too difficult to negotiate. Andy has a mechanical plaguing his progress. After some faffing it turns out to be a sticky cassette body. Not something repaired trailside.
We head on up to the Pike. A benchmark climb if ever there was one. Again it just feels spot on . That tricky corner isnt even remotely tricky. And it feels so stiff in the right places . Inputs of power to the pedals urge the bike onward. It's a bloody revelation. It's a lightweight ,coming in ( apparently ) at under 25lbs,but it's more than that. Again , that's around the weight of my 20 yr old rigid DB. This feels so stiff at the cranks . Light ,stiff , efficient . It cant be any good on the downhills.
I get to the top of the Pike , blowing hard . You still have to pedal the damned thing. It's that kind of bike .
So we have a minute on the Pike. Or two. The seat is slipping again ,but I'm putting it down anyway for the 'benchmark ' downhill.
The drop 'off the back ' is as tasty as ever and doesnt disappoint. It looks a little more eroded than of late. I've not been up here for a month or so . The Rush feels superb . Planted. The bonkers carbon lefty fork ( fork ? ) is ace. I do the first bit ,dropping off the rocky ledges, not sure what's going to happen . The brakes really arent working and theyre letting everyone know ,screaming like a banshee. I stop as it flattens out ,then open it up on the next rutted bit.Obviously the rear shock is fully 'on ' at this point. Fantastic. As I hit the cobbled roady bit at the bottom it just floats . Turning precisely.It feels closer now to the Meta 5.5 or it's stablemate the Rize. Solid.
Only 4".
Right . Decision time . We can go left and on over the moors to certain death ,or right and down the the ' Ice Cream Run' to the caff. Red pill ,blue pill.
Blue pill.
Seatpost is playing up again. You'd think with over 20 yrs of experience I'd be able to improve on a £3.5K bike by bodging on a QR in the kitchen at midnight. It turns out to have loads of grease on it. That cant be helping. Whilst I'm wiping it off with a tangerine ( ! ) ,we bump into Jon Wyatt going the other way . No tea and toast for him the bloody masochist short wearer.
Soon we're at the top of the Ice Cream Run . Icy today . Sheets of it nicely placed on the first few corners. Take it easy now. This is another 'benchmark ' of a downhill. I love it.
I open up the Rush and let it rip . Well ,as much as is prudent ,having very little in the way of brakes , a slippy seatpost , and ice hiding all over. The first bit proper opens up with some nice ruts and rocks . Just right for grabbing a stupid carbonfibre lightweight and spitting it out the other side ,arse over tit. I'm not convinced the skinny tyres ,as good as they have been up to now , can handle the slab dropoff, so for the first time in years I go around it. Carrying speed over big loose cobbles the bike gobbles it up . The next bit has a few options. There's an 'upper' and 'lower' . The upper is the easier ,i.e. less rocky , than the lower with a corner that I love , but today theres a jogging type lady running up so I have to go for the lower ,i.e, much more rocky , section.
Again the rush seems bulletproof. It's floating over stuff that it has no business doing . Really very good. I've got my weight right over the back , so maybe I'm taking some of the load off the lefty up front , but it's working well and I'm flying.
I hit the last corner and the home straight ,and blam! backwheel puncture. Trust me to get a puncture on a lefty equipped bike but it be the back wheel. Ah ,well. It's those tyres . I'm utterly convinced at this point that a proper mansize pair of tyres would transform this bike into possibly the perfect go anywhere type thingy. There's always a situation where it might be out of its depth ,and to be fair , it's not been overly hammered today , but if it's that big that it cant handle it you'd probably need a FR/DH anyway. It's pretty impressive.
Jeff complained the BB was a bit low for his liking . Maybe it is . Maybe that's why it feels like my old DB Axis. I suspect it's more a 'riding style ' issue than anything else . With your weight over the back, dropping off ledges at speed is a doddle,the front end unweighting just nice. It begs to be ridden .Hard and fast.
Cafe . Usual thing . Big slab of cake and some ' Earl'.
I'm riding home . Yay. Brilliant idea that is after sitting in a warm caff.
No prob. Just turn the bike 'off ' again. Once again it is transformed into a super dooper mile muncher. A few big hills to attack on the way home and even 'big ringed it ' ,spinning up the dual carriageway back home ,and even blew my legs off cranking up the last climb of the day ,shifting down the the middle ring for the last bit. Like I said . Hard and fast . It's that kinda bike.
Sat here now , I dont think I feel quite as tired as I should for the effort I've put in. Maybe that's tomorrows blog.That's it . It does everything that a stupid old rock hard rigid XC bike does but it doesnt hurt as much . There was a time not long ago when full sussers 'intruded ' on the experience. It doesnt do that either . It's just spot on.
So . Would I have one ? Yes .
Have I recently won the lottery ? No
Assuming I had , I'd swap the tyres for something 'local ' , sort out a QR that works,and maybe even switch the bars for some old size dia ones. I'm nitpicking ,but I find the OS ones a bit overly stiff .
By the way , the brakes work fine the other (wrong ) way around.
But that Rize is pretty bloody good as well .......
TIM, 40 tomorrow.
* Cabron . Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Saturday, 3 January 2009


"A world in white gets underway,
I want to be with you be with you night and day" *
Jeff borrowed the Cannondale Rize and took it for a spin up Rivington ,and beyond , on the 1st of Jan'.This is his bit:
Hi Tim
You missed a good'un today.
Weather was perfect - dry and sunny but very cold. Ground was mega-dry and firm, but many large patches of lethal ice.Great ingredients for a great ride!
So, it was the turn of the Cannondale Rize today. Maybe it's because I'm comfortable and used to 5" (ooo-err!), but I thought this beats the Rush hands down. It climbs well, drops equally as well whilst providing a very comfortable ride. That's not to say the Rush does'nt do this, but I think the Rize does it a little better. In the case of the Rush, the rear shock needs some fettling to prevent the bottom bracket and pedals trailing on the ground.The Fox forks on both bikes do everything you expect of a Fox fork,( Jeff ,the rush has a lefty . Ed. ) as does the rear shock. The Rush has a 3rd setting on the shock and I'm not convinced that it really needs this. The Rize on the other hand has "bouncy" and lockout, I think that's perfectly adequate and suits this particular bike.Got to admire the way the Rize climbs.
Up to the Pike, then up to the mast. I thought the Commencal Meta 5.5.1 climbed well, as does my own"Stumpy", but the Rize just seems to 'cruise' up the climbs. Found the monument to the 37 killed in that plane crash in 1958. Touching.
Back to the bike, it handled exceptionally well on the testing downhill to the SanMerino at Belmont, interrupted only by a bunch of riders pushing up who were'nt keen to give way. Never mind...
Across Darwen Moor via Witton Weavers Way, always on the ascent over there, then down through the woods opposite the cafe at Tockholes. The Rize confidently handled the blast down through the woods, through Abbeyvillage and eventually up towards great hill. The very top of the downhill towards White Coppice was challenging in terms of the first 200 yards being an ice sheet! But again, once the good stuff arrived on the drop to White Coppice, the bike inspired a lot of confidence. Good, assured handling and I was down safely. A combination of someone fettling with the rocks at that bridge and rider error ended up with the bike nosediving and throwing me over the bars face-first into the rocks. Bumps and bruises, cuts and scratches, a bit of gore, but nothing too dramatic. Witnessed by a bunch of red socks, who offered help, but was'nt required. Mind you, I did supply antiseptic wipes to a girl who had fallen and cut her hand. Went down well with the parents and the redsocks- makes the biking community look good also. And the bike is intact,that's the important thing! Which is more than I can say for my face and hand. Still' I'll be reet forSunday, as I'm repeating the ride. The remainder of the ride was unspectacular, but again on the firm terrain, the bike coped very well.
It shifts a bit too. Speed that is.
Back to the car, avoided the cafe as I was running late. Started at 9am and finished at 2pm. Thoroughly enjoyable ride on a very impressive bike.Some pics attached, use them as you will.
See ya soon,
OK , Nice one Jeff. I've got to agree ,it's a good bit of kit.
I'll be taking out the Rush tomorrow. I'll keep you posted....
* New Years Day . U2

Thursday, 1 January 2009


"I thought I was smart
but I soon found out
I didn't know what life was all about
But then I learnt I must confess
That life is like a game of chess
It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it " *












I could go on and on and on about Tuesdays ride at Llandegla trail centre. But I wont . Suffice to say it was as near a perfect ride as youre ever going to get.

I had the 'team ' van.Set up with 6 seats and space in the back it's ideal for this kind of jolly. Andy came to my house and we drove up to Phil's to meet the rest of the gang.Phil ,his son Tom ,Andy Rudd, and Gareth.

We loaded up no bother ,wheels off and all that ,and away we went. Llandegla is about an hour away just outside Wrexham and well worth a visit.

We met Jon in the carpark at about 9.30. There was a few people there ,busy enough ,but not overly so.

Cannondale Bicycles have loaned us some demo bikes.A 'Moto' freeride bike , a 'Rush ' ,all day marathon xc 4" type ,and a top 5" all-rounder ,the 'Rize'. I have my 'regular' demo , the Commencal Super4.

Andy rides his bikes the same way round as i do ,i.e ,the proper way,rear brake right hand.The Rize is already that way round so he pops for that. The other two'dales are UK way,ie front brake right hand. Gareth gets the big boy Moto and Tom gets the whippet ,the Rush . A bit of fettle and we're off.

Llandegla starts with a bit of a shocking climb. Not good on cold legs . And it is cold. Only just hovering around freezing . Probably the wrong side of freezing ,actually.

I wont go on and on about the trails . It's good ol' Welsh trail centre stuff. Graded for ability/fitness/whatever. It's frozen dry today but even on a bad day it's pretty much all rideable and drains well.Obviously it's up on the welsh moors in a forest so there have been issues with the weather ,but generally speaking it's a bit more do-able most of the time compared to ,say , regular moorland trails.

It's all quite well designed too. A few inevitable 'dead spots' as you climb back up before whooping down again. Jumps here and there are all rideoverable and dont require Knieveling.

It's the kind of place that if you wished you could pootle around ,but with a bit of speed comes alive. I had a near miss on a series of jumps snaking down through the trees. I landed one a bit 'off' ,'dead sailor' style ,and at speed I was heading for a tree. I just pulled it back as my right hand grip missed the tree by about 2". At 20mph or so . So it can be sketchy.

You need to be prepared for the weather too. It can get very cold on some of the more exposed higher areas. Descending at speed the windchill can get you ,as it did us ,our Camelbak hoses freezing up in no time at all.

So that was that. By all accounts everyone had a great ride. Andy liked the Rize.It's in its element on this type of terrain. It goes up and down with equal gusto. Gareth was having fun on the big Moto. It's arguably 'too big' here though. Blatting downhill it's a flier ,but on the inevitable upward undulations it loses momentum. Hell of a thing ,if that's your thing though. Tom was on the lightweight Rush and seemed to be doing ok.It's a super efficient thing. I'm hoping to get it out over the weekend . I'll keep you posted.

Later on Tom and Gaz swapped rides as Gaz cannily realised the ratio of up:down was shifting in the favour of the lighter bike. He remarked how instantly nippy it felt . Well it would after a few hours on the Moto. Tom did the rest of the ride on the Moto and it's fair to say dug deep towards the end. Like I said ,it's not the ideal venue.
Back at the carpark it was now busy busy,so instead of going in the cafe that was rammed we went up the road for a pub lunch ,which was nice.

Actually it was crap . Andy had a chicken curry and got something stuck in his throat . On the way home we diverted to the Countess of Chester Hospital where he stayed for 36 hrs and ended up having surgery to have the offending thing removed .

You just couldnt make that up.

* Bananarama. 'It aint what you do ... '
I'm pretty certain that's a cover version of a very old song,but hey.

It's easy to have a cheap shot at a cheap bike like this but it would be wrong.
I honestly think if you have a bike like this take it out and have some fun .
It'll be OK.
Someone was blatting round Llandegla on this bike.The £:Fun ratio was good I'd wager.
Some of these pics are mine ,but the better ones are by Gareth and Jon,here:
And here:
If you were out on the ride and would like to comment on any of the bikes that you rode or whatever ,please do so,it would be good to get some feedback.
Thanks. Top ride.