Sunday, 29 March 2009


Sunday, 15 March 2009


"...,take a left , a sharp left ,and another left..." *

Big ish spin out today. To all intents and purposes the same off road route as last week ,except this week I hoofed it from home . Old school. Skinny bike an'all.
Time was I never ever used the car to go mountainbiking. It takes a bit more effort on the one hand ,physically I suppose , but on the other it's such a pain in the arse making sure you have everything loaded up in the car ,putting the seats down or fitting bike racks or whatever, and then the same in reverse when you get home. Timewise for me there's nowt in it.
So I hoofed it.
Set out into a beautiful fresh spring morning. First corner the back end nearly rolled away from me . The back tyre was fairly soft. Not good . So I pull over . Pump not in Camelbak. Now if I'd gone in the car .... Hmmm.
So I hoof it some more . It's really dragging. I phone Gareth. No immediate assistance required ,but I figure if he puts in a spare pump it'll do me if I need it on the hoof home.
I'm putting up with it as only one can in this situation ,as the Dalai lama might say ," Acceptance is happiness ", when I spot two bikers up ahead. I put on a sprint ,of sorts , and catch them up and borrow their pump . The remaining few miles were sheer bliss by comparison . I'm not saying HH is wrong ,mind. Anyway .
I meet Gaz and Andy at the usual. To save me loads of time you can now simply read last weeks blog . You could substitute Jeff for Gareth ,and the dog awful weather for really nice weather . Oh ,and we went up to the war memorial at lead mines where Jeff ,sorry, Gareth , had a play on the well dodgy steps. He said you'd need to be " commited " to do them . I'll say.
We eschewed the gardens in favour of the Ice Cream Run on the way to the caff .
I had a different cake .Earl Grey ,no lemon. Then rode home.
* "Once around the block ", Badly Drawn Boy

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Today we are going on a very long bike ride. Thats me, Amy, my brother Luke and my dad ,Tim. Adam did not want to come because he was feeling ill.

We got our bikes out of the shed, we made sure we all had our things ready. We put warm clothes on, because it was a bit chilly. We can't forget our helmets

we set off down our streets. The wind was blowing us forward, Luke was speeding past the houses. Just then, I asked Dad where we were going. He said "To the 3 sisters."

We turned off the main road, it was muddy because some people were building on the path. Next we crossed the road, past the shops, then went down a hill. At the bottom of the hill there was a long straight, i was cruising down the straight, i was going really fast. Then we went through some muddy puddles. After that we got into the woods. It was actually quite muddy in the woods as well. We thought it was muddy all the way through the ride up to now.

We rode our bicycles around the lake and then stopped to look at the swans and the ducks. There were lots and lots of them. We pushed our bikes up a muddy hill to get to the play park. Luke and I played on the swings and the seesaw. Dad took some pictures.
We went down the other side of the hill that was very muddy and very slippy . I was sliding on my wheels down the hill.It was a bit scary.
Next we went through some more woods on a new path to the racing cars track. It wasnt very windy in here ,so we sat down and had a drink and some chocolate.There were lots of cars racing around the track. It was noisy. A silver car was going very fast and skidding on the corners.
After we had a rest we set off back around the 3 sisters ,up a hill ,around ,and then down another hill. My coat got very muddy from riding in the puddles.
We came out of the 3 sisters on to a farm track. It was very windy and very hard work as it was now blowing us backwards.Dad gave me a push up the hill and over the bridge . We saw a train on the train tracks.
I was a bit tired when we got to the road . Dad helped me get up soughers lane. It is a very big hill and it was still very windy. We got off our bikes and pushed a bit as well.
When we got home we were all muddy and our bikes were dirty.
I was feeling cold so dad made me a nice cup of hot chocolate and we watched Miley Cyrus on the television.
It was good.We had a good day out.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


"I sit on the muddy ground, the muddy ground,
Waiting for you.
You say look what you found on the muddy ground
Was waiting for you" *

Proper wet wild an windy spring ride today. Not much to report. No fatalities.
Jeff and I met Andy at the barn rd. I had a loose plan for a local mini-epic of sorts. I 'mapped' it last night at over 18 miles with a few getouts along the way if required and if we went to the caff ,which was likely , a few miles added on.
We headed on over to the Nab where along the way Matt on his magic singlespeed 29"er thingy turned up.I remarked how the weather didnt match the forecast of wintry showers,although it was fairly windy ,it was actually quite nice.
He split off over the nab as we ducked into the woods to check out the miniature DH play course . It's OK ,but still needs work.Very muddy too. I was on my old Fisher today with the skinny 1.5 Continentals,so no big drops for me . Andy was on his old rigid Trek singlespeed so he wasnt looking to huck either . Jeff on the other hand was dropping like a good un . Trouble was it was off the side of the bike with his hand on the floor . He's just fitted some SPDs and was ,er , getting aquainted with the finer points of the system.
A short hoof on the road brought us to the back end of Anglezarke at the White Coppice end. Into the trees agaibn it's very gloopy . The 1.5s are in their element here. Didnt make it up the side of the steps though . There's a few raised boardwalk sections that are now very eroded on and off. All good fun on the hardtail. It makes you realise just how much you have to work the bike,compared to a full susser. Jeff wasnt loving the trialsy sections however ,fastened to the bike and all that. It takes time ,but SPDs are well worth the effort. I tried them years ago and couldnt get on with them. I'd always used toe-clips and straps.Old school. It finally took over 5000 miles of commuting on Spuds to convince me . I'd use them all week and then at the weekend get on my beartraps with painful results . You get used to the efficiency of being able to rotate the cranks. My feet would slip out of the back of my old pedals and ,9 times out of 10 , I'd wallop my calf on my canti's , ( a type of brake . It was that long ago),not good . So ,I'm not saying Jeff's got 5000 miles to do ,but it does take time. I still have my moments on them.
We traverse the Slippery Bridge of Death , and then on past the Anglezarke cliffs ,just before the top carpark we turn left and up to scoot across the moorland ,missing out a bit of the road. Again proper muddy ,but with proper mud tyres ,no problem. Still hard work though on the hardtail compared to the full sussers of late. Rewarding work though,and you cant beat the feel at the pedals when you stamp down on them.
Another short hop up the road to the edge of the moors. The clear blue skies have unbelievably evaporated and it's gone a bit dark.Behind us the promised wintry showers are on their way. And sideways too. Time was when you could rely on the Met Office to get it wrong.
It all blows over fairly quickly as we drop down into LeadMines and I take us up the stony path towards Sam's Pasture. Sam was at home with a full English and a mug of tea.
It's quite exposed out here ,but luckily the wind is at our backs.Then bizarrely the wind just drops. Completely. For a while there is an eerie absence of weather. Well ,until we loop round and back into it that is. There's a final little drop to a bridge that ,for some reason , walkers have placed largeish stones on ,possibly in an effort to dissuade mountainbikers from descending thus.
It all adds to the fun. Keep up the good work. It's even trickier on the Fisher. I've said this before, ( will I say it again ? .Dont answer that. ),a hardtail is soooo much fun. And by extension a rigid even moreso. It's hard work at times ,but compared to a full susser you're MTBing loads more,which surely is why we're out in a blizzard after all. I noticed this some time ago . On a bouncy bike on a 'proper ' trail you are 'properly' mountainbiking . No question. However as the trail levels out or smooths out a tad ,you end up just bobbing along. Going through the motions,as it were,on 'transition stages' between one tasty bit and the next.
The thing is though ,on a less bouncy bike you are mountainbiking the whole time. Even relatively innocuous bridleways can be challenging at speed. Throw in the inevitable rigid-induced fatigue and it can be a right dingerdy dong. In terms of 'bang per buck ' it's hard to beat.
I remind my self of this mountainbike theory of relativity as we turn 'properly ' into the wind for a proper bit of proper transition stage. The bridleway around Catter Nab is a stony affair. Blunt edged rocks jut out of the ground just dying to pinch your tyres. Full attention required. I did ding one at the back very hard and expected a snakebite ,but the tyres are tougher than you'd expect for a 1.5. Maybe next time ,eh .
We head on up to the Pike just as a large group of walkers are doing the same. I open up the Fisher as I want to clear that tricky corner before they get there. I just make it in time. Blowing hard and pinging off the uneven rocks I nearly lose the front end. I'm carrying enough speed though and nail it. It's becoming a bit of a non-event on the blinged out bikes of late ,but it's a real achievment on the hardtail. I love it. Spurned on ,and into the wind again ,I crank it up to the top . Very quite fairly dead windy up here.
Jeff points out that the weather is returning in spades. It's pitch black and heading our way. In just a few minutes we are treated to a stiff shower of hail ,again ,in from the side. We let the worst of it blow over and then Andy and I drop off the back,Jeff opting for the more Spud friendly option of winding down.
At the bottom we regroup and I mention something about the 'Two Lads'. It's not met with universal approval. Just then a loud crack overhead confirms I am probably certifiably insane. We head for the caff as a sheet of lightning and an almighty rumble fills the dark sky.
Needles of ice sting our faces as we head for cover ,and then like an episode of Mr Benn ,it's like another day,the shopkeeper appears and it's time for tea. Or was that 'Crystal tips and Alistair' ?
Earl Grey (NO lemon)and a big slice of chocolate cake.
Those tyres are fab. Get some.Reasonably priced at your local bicycle/clothing boutique on the high st.
* The charlatans. 'Muddy ground'.
'Four seasons in one day' by Crowded house sprung to mind but a) it was more like 2 seasons and b) it's a bit of a crap song.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Hit the North Video

Tim's report from the event - if you missed it - here.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


"I work hard all week, and so do you
We deserve to let off some steam
Let all the drugs creep in when we need to rage through this life.
There might be ones who are smarter than you
That have the right answers
That wear better shoes
Forget about those melting ice caps, we're doing the best,
with what we've got " *


Although not as big as last weeks ride , still a good spin . Still a bit gloopy in places. This week I'm on the Rush . I've ever so slightly upgraded it. The bog standard spinny grips are in the bog ,and in their place are some DMR lock-ons ,with fetching red lock on bits. They only have a lock at one end and are a bit BMXy ,but they feel just right ,and dont spin . Job done.
I've also swapped the tyres a bit . I like tyres ,me. Not a big change though . I've swapped the front 2.2 Mountain King ,for a 2.4,leaving the rear one as stock 2.2 . Again a bit BMXy.
Just the 3 of us this week . Andy was just fettling his wheels as Jeff and I arrived at 0830 on the Barn Rd.
We set off up past the top barn ,but took a different way up through the gardens. It was funny weather . Quite still ,and not too cold . The first climb of the day is always a challenge,and this one certainly was. Wet slippy rocky slidy type thing. The last time I came up this I was on the 'Fisher HiFi of last year and it had me off then. Climbing the Rush it does feel something like the Fisher . The front end plants down well , and the back end tucks in and grips well too. Anyway , I had a good go and it wasnt good enough . About halfway up I zipped the back tyre on something slippy and that was that. Still ,it was going OK 'til then. I got back on and did the rest. Well ,after a mo ,I'd had enough and was kinda glad it slipped . It's a tough climb . One that normally we do the other way round as Newton intended.
The long slog continues up to Georges lane and then on to the foot of the Pike climb. Jackets off .
Just for a slice of variety I attack the first tricky corner from the other side than I'd normally do,cutting across from the far right . A couple of different lumps and bumps than usual are no problem and I suppose it's a more objective test.
It's a bit cooler up top ,but not that cold I'd want my jacket back on. We have a minute or two then do the classic drop off the back . The Rush is good on climbs ,but it really shines going down. It's got that more stretched out classic feel ,that I like , that might not be everyones cup of tea. I take mine without milk and a slice of lemon. I found a better line than the other week ,so I didnt fall off . Hitting the stony path I'm aware that once again the Rush is going a bit faster than is properly sensible for a 40 yr old on a 4"er ,really pushing the tyres into the corners ,I'm not sure if theyre not just a bit squirmy. It was a bit greasy at the bottom.
We head on over to Wilders Moor for yet more sloggery. This is a dog of a climb when it's wet ,but perversely I kinda like it. We follow a few lads up. One of them nails the ditch ,so I have what can only be described as a half-ass go at it . Nearly there. Ah well . I ticked it off last week.
We regroup up on the road and it's like turning out time in the Wheatsheaf. Hordes of riders have turned up from nowhere ,amongst them the celebrity MTBer ,Craig Burrows . Craig was best known for his role in Pacific Blue,a popular show in the '90s ,chronicaling the crime busting exploits of cops on bikes on Venice beach.CA. Craig stood in for Hans Rey when he was having his legs waxed.
We leave the throng behind and head down as per last week ,for the trail above the quarry . Wet and boggy in places this week.All good fun.
We turn up on the Scorpion and head over to the now not so secret valley. Another tough climb. Slippy tricky. Rush digs in and spits it out the other end.
Boggy moorland leads to the mast Rd ,and then surprise surprise ,more boggy moorland leads to the Two Lads. But this is upwards boggy. Ace. We all wind up it and have another blow up top.Bit chilly up here.
We do the now essential downhill and once again I open up the Rush . It responds very well and once again I'm probably carrying a bit more speed than makes sense on the slippy ruts. Dropping into the gulley to the dog kennels I'm giving it a right flogging. As I've said ,it feels 'bigger' than a 4"er. Very good . The planted front end ( like the Fisher ) is not a problem but it does require a bit more effort loifting the front wheel . This is the same spot I noticed this with the Fisher last year. OK ,where was I ? Caning it . At speed I drop off one of the ,er ,drop offs ,and heads up I spot up ahead some senior citizens ( mid 40s)pushing their bikes up . I have to stop . Never mind ,eh . It was all going so well.
At the kennels we head off for tea,bumping into Matt on his magic singlespeed.Good to see him. Rumours of his demise are greatly exagerrated.
We wind down through the gardens ,and in an effort to truly push the Rush to the edge and back I open it up again . It doesnt half respond to a stamp on the pedals and in a blink it's away. It's really good. I'd probably run a slightly shorter stem ,but this is a 'large' so it could be that ,but it does feel like a limo ,albeit a big fun ,dead fast limo.Just a bit stretched. Fully in the zone I open it up eeeeeven more and with a big bunnyhop off a lip ,blam, I blow up the back tyre . Shouldve put a 2.4 at that end as well. Hmmm.
Fix puncture.
Cafe .
Earl Grey. No milk . No lemon.
* Sunday . More Bloc Party . It's been on in the car all week....


Me and Mark made the pilgrimage down to Milton Keynes for Madison's annual tradeshow, here's a few pics I took.

Our team shirt and trophy proudly on display in the Shimano tent.

2009 Thor gear.

Bell Drop helmet, our BMX team will be using these this year, as the none-colour-blind amongst you will have noted, it matches our Thor gear.

Giro now make gloves. When I first saw these on the web I thought they looked good and even tried to order a pair for myself but they weren't in stock yet. So I had to check them out when they had them on display. Anyway, although there are a few models these two, the Xen and Remedy stood out. The Remedy (black/whitee) uses D30 padding while the Xen (orange/white) is a little more lightweight and I am not kidding you, this is the most comfortable gloves I have ever worn and I've been wearing MX gloves since 1976 (like these). These are expected later this month (March), check them out.

Intense Tracer VP Custom Build

Info here.