Sunday, 21 June 2009


"How I love
all of the complicating things of life.
Such a little thing
a fumbling politeness.
The difference it saved me
wielding a bicycle chain
Most people keep their brains between their legs..." *

Looking forward to todays little tootle. Cant manage much more than a quick spin though,it being father's day ,an' all.

Met Stu on the usual Barn Rd . Quiet today. Probably in no small part due to the less than mid-summer conditions. Woke up this morning to what can only be described as rain. Drying out though. Driving up through Horwich to no fantastic panoramas. The upper part of the hill obscured in a heavy veil of mist and murk. Still warmish though. Crap weather for biking. If it's hot and nice ,or equally ,cold and not so nice ,one can dress appropriately ,however when it's both damp and muggy ,there's not a technical fabric alive that can deal with the resulting microclimate under your armpits.

But we do it anyway.

Stu's riding his homegrown Specialized singlespeed. I'm on the demo 'dale Rize. The dead good carbon lime green GDP of a small African country one. I gave Alan a few of the bikes back when I was ill the other week ,but I'm not totally daft. It's a flyer.

We head up ,through the murkiness to the foot of the Ice Cream Run,fairly tanking it. My bad leg I dont like to mention is a bit twingy again ,and i could feel it . It serves as a good indicator of when the pace is a bit up.
We stop at the top of the gardens near the Pidgeon Tower for a blow ,and a pump of air in Stu's back tyre. Glad of the rest. And then away.

Passing the Pike,its profile shrouded in doom, I ask if it's on the menu,but dont push too hard when Stu says it's 'off '. Couldnt see much of it ,up there somewhere in the ether.

So we carry on .

Just as the main bridleway starts to drop down in front of the pike ,you know ( ? ) ,it goes just ever so slightly bumpy. Not a great lot ,and there's a definite 'line ' through it ,but I'm reminded of last weeks run out with the kids . We came down this exact bit ,but last week I was on my old(ish) Fisher Big Sur,a type of hardtail bicycle with little in the way of comfort. The Cannondale was markedly different . You can see where this is going.
So we carry on.Regardless.

Past the 'Dog Kennels' and on to the start of Wilders Moor. A slog of a climb in the damp. A couple of guys bring up the rear and enquire as to where we're heading and a brief interlude ensues. As soon as we stop ,in fact every time we have stopped so far , we have been under attack from the terror in the sky. I'm sure there is a point to them in the food chain and all that ,but ,really ,would mozzers be missed? Really ?

Climbing up here ,perversely,I enjoy. Again ,dullness notwithstanding ,the Rize just shines. It kinda bites down and digs in . I didnt fiddle with any shock settings ,front or rear ,just rode it.About a quarter way up ,before the ditch, there's this little funny rutty bit that has had me flailing in the wet before now. OK ,it's not proper wet ,as such , but the Rize just inspires confidence . I just unweight the saddle a little ,not a full out of the saddle burst ,but a burst nonetheless,and it goes on through with not one iota of fuss. On to the the Humphrey's Ditch I dont even miss a beat ,no pre-rest ,just dive in . And fluff it . Hmm . My fault . I clipped a pedal and pinged off something . The bike just feels tooo good . Can you see now where this is going?

At the top on the road we have another little stop to feed the wildlife . My lock-on grips are not quite locked-on . Quick fix .Thankfully. We briefly ride on with the two aforementioned lads before we turn off to drop down across to the Dog Kennels. First kinda proper downhill. Again, I did this a few weeks back on my 'comeback' ride on the Fisher ,skinny tyres etc etc. Again ,Rize ,different. It's supremely talented and in its element here . Initially not too steep, the trail snakes across the moorland,a few boggy ditches here and there ,and some good scalextric sections . In the groove. The Rize feels ace here . Weighting the pedals one way or the other feels super secure ,and farther down into the bigger drops it's like theyre not even there. Flying now ,pushing it ,into the last few big drops ,sketchy landing and then the final chute to the bottom,anchors on , Avid Elixir CRs,mega. They actually slow down the world underneath your tyres. Some poor chinaman has been flung over the bars of his rickshaw on the other side of the globe.

It sounds terrible finding fault with a 3 grand bike. There are no faults . And that's it's biggest fault . It is utterly superb. About an hour later when Stu catches up I mention the 'different reference point ' that I have regarding the bikes. Way way back the bikes were utterly rubbish ,by comparison . But it was all we had ,so we ran with it . They required tons more 'input' ( I said ), and rewarded the skillful over the brave ( I didnt say). I must be one miserable old bastard. The Rize is fantastic. If you 're new to MTBing ,or have only been riding for ,say ,15 years ,get one,you'll love it.

If I had to nitpick ,I'd prefer Shimano over the SRAM ,but....

And ( I said ) for a 40 yr old guy with a bad back it fairly rocks.

So ,we head back ,up past the Pike,avoiding it's call once more. At the top of the gardens we stop again . Stu needs some more air in his back tyre again.hearing a clattery clat, I look up. Just coming to a halt at the gate is another cannondale that's just taken his owner for a ride too. Same lime green ,incredible hulk , 'Moto'.

As we discuss relative merits/carbon weave patterns, another cloud descends on us . We're being eaten alive. Any more and I'll need a transfusion. It's the humidity ,Carruthers. One of his mates turns out to be Scott Williams.Alan's buddy. The world famous BMXer from the 1980s.

We head on our seperate ways,they opting for the gardens ,us the Ice Cream,and the following picture sequence.

The Ice Cream Run is a local legend. Story goes ,back in the day two local bikers ,descending off the Pike would be then presented with the option of the technical trialsy Japanese gardens,or the rocky cutting 'Cresta Run' to the carpark ,with Mr Fredericks selling ice cream at the bottom. Over time this was diluted to the simple call of " Gardens ? " , Or , " Ice Cream Run ?"

Time was you could have an ice cream at the top AND the bottom ,but that's another story.

A promising young I.T. nerd ,with delusions of journalistic grandeur ,sealed it's fate by naming it in a magazine article he contributed on ,and the rest is .....

So ,the bike's a peach . I enter high into the first turn ,almost treating it as a berm . It's even more in its element now . Bigger bangs swallowed up ,no problem . When it gets like this these modern bikes still need to be worked . It's not the full on assault on the senses ,and joints ,and everything else that you get on the old bikes ,but you still know about it . I hit the slabby bit ,probably just pushing it that bit too much,hop off the edge and land ever so wrong hoofed on the loose xylophonic limestone. I a heartbeat I'm pinged offline and ,at speed ,I am ever so definitely heading where I dont want to. 5 or 6 good sized stones ,loosely assembled ,points up.Waiting to pounce on a victim.



If you dont know the feeling you've never lived . That twitch of the arse. You know it's going to hurt ,and you're scared ,elated ,orgasmic ,terrified . It's like just before a fight,and it's out of your hands,and in the lap of Newton.

I'm going down and I know it. Go go gadget bike. I just lean back ,just a bit,really ,all my weight is still 'fore' after the huck. " I've got you ,Dont worry " .

See ,that's the point . I'm 40. I have 4 kids and a mortgage. I need this bike . Ok ,arguably I might not have hucked off quite the same on the MuddyFox Courier ,but I might have .

And you wouldnt be reading this and I'd be eating through a straw for the forseeable future.

And then we wouldnt have found the next bit......


* Such a little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference. Morrissey.

Fathers day Epilogue:

I arrive home ,early as promised ,no cafe today. I've already been treated to my father's day stuff first thing this morning . The kids are milling about ,buzzing and fussing ,swatting them away. I had'nt seen Adam's new tee shirt ,but when I did I had to smile. My legs are covered.

'til next time.

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