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.


  1. You are unquestionably certifiably insane.

  2. I know.
    Hang on . If I know I'm insane ,er....
    Catch 22. most infuriating rubbish I've ever read.
    I couldnt put it down.