Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ridiculous Bicycles 

Oxenhope Evening ride with various people on bikes of varying degrees of silliness. Me (6" travel DH rig), Dave (6" travel DH monster), Carvel (singlespeed), Bob (singlespeed), Piers (rigid and fixed) and Mark (5" travel XC full susser - D'OH!). Lots of crashes from most of us with perhaps the best being Dave's unprovoked prang into a rubbly verge to the side of a smooth-as-feck farmroad or maybe Carvel's fence-snagging-to-puddle-swimming calamity! I somehow pinch flatted my rear wheel on not much at all and felt really stoopid (I seem to pinch flat every time I ride with Piers for some reason). Both mine and Dave's bikes were slow-steering wallowy pigs for 98% of the ride but they really came marvellously alive on steep drops (which were swallowed with ease) and the extra 10lbs(!) of weight wasn't really so much of a drawback as you might expect.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: None (car in for repairs at the moment).

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Blacktop Musings... 

Solo 50km road ride circumnavigating Longridge Fell on the Redline (only joking - on the Bianchi actually). Got a bit fed up with hammering it after the first hour and decided to cruise and ruminate instead:-
I really love stinging sunburnt biceps and sweat running into my eyes...
You don't see much wildlife while roadying; yesterday we saw lapwings, curlews, kestrels, lambs, grouse, pheasants, cows and more - today I saw roadkill and vermin (behind the wheels of various BMW's)...
Why are roadbike brakes so dangerously crap?...
Isn't gearshifting with brake levers a brilliant idea?...
I prefer road climbing to road descending...
Mobile phones are ace...
I should have brought more than one water bottle...
I cannot wait to leave my current workplace FOREVER next friday...
That new section of tarmac that passes Doeford Bridge is the smoothest in the entire world and is exhilaratingly fast...
Roadies still ignore you if you're wearing baggy shorts...
The Ribble Valley is a fantastically lovely place...
I can't believe I didn't bring any money - an ice cream in Chatburn would be heavenly right now...
I hope tomorrow's job interview goes okay...
MUSIC OF CHOICE: nowt, prepping for tomorrow like a good boy.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Best 24hrs Of Biking... Ever? 

Friday April 23rd, evening ride from Jim's crib, on t'Redline. I had a strong yearning to sample Ashy Valley again so we headed south-east with gusto. We rode Ashy to the very end and by golly it was delightful! A singletrack peach no less. Riding the cliff edge sections and the steps in half-light made it all the more exhilarating too. No idea where we went after that but there was a fair bit of (nice) road, a lights-out-and-creep-through-the-farmyard bit of prime virgin cheek and two extended pub stops. We accidentally stayed until chucking out time and needless to say the subsequent rocky descent back to Jim's was just a tad sketchier than normal!

Saturday, April 24th, 50km epic in the southern Dales, on t'Redline. Fantastic trails, fantastic weather, fantastic views, fantastic fitness, fantastic fucking bike! Well, I was feeling fabulous but it's fair to say that Jim has felt better! He was really struggling in places due to tired legs and lack of food but thankfully he found reserves of juicy power somewhere and lasted the distance. He didn't once get off and push (even on the bastard climb onto Barden Moor from Rylstone - which I very nearly completed on a singlespeed!). We experienced too much stuff to go into here, and for most of it "you just had to be there" so I'll link to some photo's instead (pretty uninspired digi pic's 'cos I forgot my Nikon!). The sun was out all day (bar the odd passing cloud), we were out for 6 hours in total, hence our now poor little sunburnt pink arms, legs and necks :-D
Hetton Moors and loads of other nice spots.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: Kanye West's LP on Jim's car stereo (quite possibly the most tedious rap album of all time).

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Baggy shorts an' all!" 

Stubbing Wharf evening ride on the... Redline (have I told you how much I love that bike?). Stanny's transformation is almost complete - he joined our merry group with severe roadie tendencies but tonight was riding with: suspension forks, 2.5" tyres, riser bars, disc brakes, baggy shorts and no peaked cloth cap under his helmet! Job well done. Still working on getting him to slap on a seatpin QR and a helmet peak though, maybe next week. Route: Jack Bridge, MTL, Pinball Alley, Snakey Twist, Ali's Zig-Zags, Heptonstall, Blue Pig (where Tim crashed and smashed one of the mag test lights up - oops!), Bolty's Steps (big up to Tom for riding the bottom section) and finishing down Riverside Run. Most of the ride was ridden without lights and all of it was excellent. Night riding is fecking ace.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Parsley Sounds" by Parsley Sound.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

"How come you're so muddy?" 

Early evening ride round Gisburn Forest with El Crumbalini and a guy called Martin (who was on a full-sus Marin but he turned out to be okay really!). Crumbs was unexpectedly (considering the damp conditions) up for doing as much of the cheeky bits as possible. I was on my beloved Redline and was once again impressed by how it handles steep, nadgery, slippery descents. Maybe there is something to be said for huge riser bars and short stems after all! The Conti tyres were their usual comically unpredictable selves (which I'm growing to quite like - added danger factor!). The best bit of cheek through the trees (which really needs a nickname pronto) was brilliant; it was really dark in there and all the hidden low branches and slippy-as-hell exposed roots took us all by surprise - I had a major front wheel washout on an off-camber root and ended up hugging a tree trunk at one point! Crumbs had the most amusing "off" though where he was attempting to ride over a greasy pallet but came to a standstill as his rear wheel just span out (no traction whatsoever) and he slowly collapsed over on his side into a HUGE muddy puddle. Oh, the hilarity! A great fun little ride it was, made all the sweeter by the lack of need for lights and a couple of pints afterwards.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Rocks" by Cherrystones.

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Met Jim and Crumbs (yay!) early in Hebden Bridge for some breakfast. Ruby Juice didn't open 'til 11am so we went to have a browse in Blazing Saddles (where I bought some dead kewl Race Face shorts that were so nice they had to ridden straight away!). After a bagel and expresso session in Ruby Juice it was time to hit the trails. Crumbs had driven through Pecket Well on the way in and demanded to ride its infamous descent (well, he mildly inquired anyway). Our route was: Jack Bridge, Mary T to Widdop, New Laithe Moor, House Of Shit, Lumb Falls, and Pecket Well B. We had covered a lot of ground much quicker than expected so we (read: I) decided to add Horsehold (first time I'd successfully ridden it on a singlespeed btw) and Fishing Is Amazing. Good choice. Crumbs rode it all no problem (skilled mofo that he is). Then we cleaned our bikes back at Blazing Saddles (cheers guys) and went to Ruby Juice again for smoothies and pizza. Mmm...

BUT the main event of the day was happening elsewhere. Craig and CrazyLegs were still up riding in the Lakes today (attempting the classic Borrowdale Bash route). Just after passing The New Delight pub we received an alarming text from CrazyLegs saying that Craig had stacked BIG time and was awaiting Mountain Rescue. Blimey. We called CrazyLegs and despite keeping it brief (to keep their phoneline free) we learned that Craig was alive, conscious and speaking ("hello Mister H!") but it was fairly serious. Blimey. To cut a long text drama short: Craig was choppered off the hillside, CrazyLegs and the bikes were Land Rover-ed down, Craig is in Carlisle Hospital with a bust hand and a could-have-been-ULTRA-serious cracked hip, Craig won't be riding 100% for 8 weeks. Blimey.

Get well soon Droid!
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Again" by Colder.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Some PROPER mountainbiking 

aka "crap route makeover". Rode (my Redline) in the western Lakes with Craig (Spot) and Crazy-Legs (Stiffee). The route I had decided to do was one I had only ridden once a few years ago and thought was a bit crap. But then I had a brainwave and realised that if ridden the other way around it could actually be quite good. How right I was! We started in Eskdale Green along some nice gentle contouring widetrack with entertaining moments of roots, rocks and river crossings that brought us out in Boot. After observing an extended chaotic herding display from the UK's Worst Sheep Farmer ("come back you stupid fucking dog!") we set off up the initially too-steep-to-ride climb from Boot up to Burnmoor Tarn. Although the ground was soggy in places it was pretty much all rideable and singlespeed-friendly. The plateau alongside the tarn was brilliantly stark and imposing and the descent off the top down to Wasdale Head was completely fantastic; not too fast or anything but full of rocks, drop-offs, waterbars, mini-bridges, stream crossings, cobbles and more, and the awesome views were dangerously diverting too. Straight into my list of top 5 descents. The road spin alongside Wast Water was a bit of a drag due to a headwind but pretty soon the good weather passed and the rain started and I began to enjoy it even more! The ascent of Irton Fell was 20mins of shouldering bikes up a tussocky hillside but just as it was getting a bit too much of a joyless slog the treeline appeared on the horizon and our goal was within sight - phew! I could sense the increasing puzzlement of my riding buddies and their silent pondering as to why-the-hell I had made them come this way. But I knew it was going to be worth it. Oh, how right I was! The descent down through Miterdale Forest is unbelievably fun. Chock-full of slick roots, moss-covered rocks, low-branches and all sorts. One particular series of twisty nadgery drop-ins demanded several attempts to nail 100% successfully - what a top feeling! Nearer the bottom the roots disappear and the rocks come out to play a bit more down a wonderfully sinuous and rhythmic snakey bit of trail. Delightful. All in all it was a great, great ride with some physically and spiritually demanding sections that were more than rewarded with inspiring scenics and adrenaline-charged (and thankfully deserted) descents. What a brainwave that turned out to be :o)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Lovers" by The Sleepy Jackson.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

One Bow Shot East Of The Abbey 

Feeling much better (despite being inside at work all day) so went out on a much overdue solo ride around my old local biking haunts. I took the Redline again (addictive?) and was very much back on form. There's one particular section of stoney up-and-down singletrack on Wiswell Moor that is a good barometer of current form. I nailed it wonderfully. I then sat for awhile on the ridge of Nick O' Pendle serenely surveying the panoramic view. I counted seven hills that I could see and each of them has been the scene of good times at some recent point. I started to smile alarmingly. On the way back home I took in several pointless mini-loops of singletrack just because they were there (despite their concurrent bastard steep road exits) and had a sublimely fun play in the very special place where I first rode a mountainbike, which I shall refer to from now on only as One Bow Shot East Of The Abbey. Feel back to my old self again 100%.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: None required :o)

Monday, April 12, 2004

"Where's my midget?" 

Oxenhope. A re-enactment of the North Leeds v Calderdale ride from last year. Woke up feeling very grouchy (sleep deprivation is bad) and stayed fairly grumbly throughout the day. Two other factors contributing to my surliness was the continued absence of Crumbs and the nightmare combination of riding great trails too slowly/clumsily because of exhaustion. The latter factor was the killer; really annoying and depressing. Piers and Craig were obviously in slightly better states and spent most of the first half of the ride disappearing over the horizon and leaving me and Jim scratching our sweaty heads wondering where to go. Still, finding decent new trails is always worthwhile and I started to perk up a bit towards the end (ie. after beer).
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "All Time Highs" by The 13th Floor Elevators.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

"At least the sun's out eh?" 

Andy Armstrong's 40th birthday weekend bash. Got a lift from the kindly Coogle up on friday. We arrived in Garrigill, found the pub and stayed there 'til gone 1am with T and Laura getting royally arseholed. No idea what I did or said for most of the night but T seemed to like me so that's okay(!). Last time I could focus on a clock face it said 5:06AM.

Awoke the next day rather too early (felt okay 'cos I was still drunk!). After an impressively extended session of uber-faffing we set off up the hill to Gregg's Hut. Felt bizarrely quite fit considering and rode fairly well (despite the best efforts of a skipping baggy chain on the Redline - grr). Paid for my efforts in the evening where I didn't really shake of my tiredness 'til past midnight when the Cheeky Vimto's appeared! Proper old-skool style birthday party (loud arguing, girls crying, drugs, vomit, not-so-discreet sexual activity etc) - excellent!

Awoke on sunday feeling absolutely dire. Craig and Lee were up for a "proper" ride everyone else was going for a teashop pootle. I eventually opted to go with Craig and Lee (partly to act as a voice-of-reason in case The Droid erupted into full flow!). The ride was... interesting. Cross Fell was quite fun but I was dismayed at my level of hungover bike-handling. The return leg over The Maiden Way was a nasty mix of vague grassy fields, bike pushing/carrying up steep climbs but the weather was beautiful, the views were amazing and the company chilled so we could live with it. Should have got some nice photo's too hopefully. We eventually got back some seven hours after starting! After bidding a quick farewell to the remaining few, me, Craig and Sex Midget (who was eager for some more riding) set off back to mine via Burger King.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: Whatever mad shit I could find on Jon's mp3 player!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Short but oh-so-sweet 

Chris' farewell evening ride. Started in Tod for once and canal-ed it to Walsden, bastard steep road and ace packhorse climb/descent, London Road, The Pixie Trail, canal to Tenth Muse. Jim turned up looking like Jay-Z in his new evil-looking pimpy new Golf estate. Reminded me of our forthcoming Hebrides holiday - cannot wait for that! Rode the Redline and was again impressed with its climbing aptitude on both tarmac and rough stuff. Downhill it is still the outright hooligan we've come to know and love!
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "EP 1, 2, 3" by Astrobotnia.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"OOF!" ... "AARGH!" 

Just back from rather an action-packed 24 hours in the esteemed company of Craig. Last night we went over to Sheffield to watch the Scissor Sisters play live which was most entertaining (helped in no small part by the large amount of alcohol I seemed to plough through quite quickly!). Today we had arranged to skive off work and explore my old MTBing haunts in the White Peak and so it went. It was a fairly punishing six hour session in the saddle and I'm not sure anyone else would have dealt with what we were put through quite so adeptly and stoically as The Droid. Good work lad! Highlights included: spending 45 minutes trying to find the start of the trail (oops!); rediscovering my old Cheeky Woods and feeling instantly at home again in there; getting a bit carried away in said woods and ending up doing a bit of "jungle biking" to get out; my super-fast endo crash at the start of The Best Trail Ever II where I landed chest first; the packhorse-esque techno-climb-from-hell; Craig's rut-induced extended bail and slide-out into some thorns; getting lost (again) in the land of a thousand muddy fields; discovering the enigmatic Ram Trail (needs to be worked into a route NOW); beer; pizza; and just generally surviving the day! Not a great day to cycle in this part of the UK (or anywhere really) but we still dug in and came up smiling. Because that's what we do.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Songs" by The Rotary Connection.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

"You'll never guess what I've forgotten..." 

The lure of The Cheeky Woods tempted me away from the Oxenhope ride and over to Juicy Jim's for a none-more-cheeky ride around Rammy's hidden delights. Arrived at Jim's at half twelve, shot the breeze with him and Sooz for a while, faffed with bikes for a while until the the sun stopped and the rain started and then it was time to ride our bicycles. But I'd forgotten my helmet, gloves and shoes - oops. Mad dash home and back and we were finally on the trails by 3pm! Oh well, at least the rain had stopped by then. The Redline dealt with climbing The Rake and up to Peel Tower surprisingly well and as for the First Past The Post and The Bends descents... wow! This bike rocks hard. Eventually we pulled up to the main reason we were riding today: The Cheeky Woods. My word! That trail is F-U-N. The Cheekymobile felt immediately right at home and shot off like a bullet darting over greasy roots, carving down drop-ins and launching off whatever rock was at hand. Me and this bike are ONE. It also rocketed down The Rocky Plunge without blinking too. Cannot wait to ride it again on thursday's night ride (I dare say I'll be tempted to take it on The Return To The White Peak on tuesday too!).
Pic's from today's frolics.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly" by Amp Fiddler.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

"And that goes in there" 

Major fettling day. Took delivery of new springs for my MXC's to reduce their travel from 100mm down to 80mm (so they'd "work" better on the Redline). Struggled to find anywhere that sold 7.5wt fork oil so ended up buying a litre of 5wt and a litre of 10wt from a dirt cheap motorbike shop and mixed them together to my own special formula to end up with a 6.5(ish)wt oil (which will hopefully speed up the traditionally slow, overdamped action of MXC's). All went fairly swimmingly apart from having a right old wrestle trying to get the springs off the rods (solved by a big feck-off hammer), forgetting to re-attach the stanchion bolts properly which resulted in fork oil pouring all over my jeans as I "filled" the fork leg back up and spending far too long being far too precise measuring the oil height level ("hmm... the manual says 40mm from the top that looks more like 39.5mm" etc). Once all back together and pumped up, plugging them into the Redline was a breeze. Initial backyard testing showed them to be quite nice (no stiction, no top out, decent sag, very supple and not too progressive). RESULT! It might be a bit of a sad thing to confess but having been heavily involved at all stages of assembling this bike I really feel rather close to the Redline and think this may be the start of a long and beautiful friendship. Whilst in fettling mode I went round all my other bikes removing or correcting all the minor niggles I had with them. Most satisfying I must say :o)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "The Blue Trees EP" by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

Friday, April 02, 2004

"Is it safe?" 

My dentist had a cancellation so I managed to get an appointment to investigate my crazy toothache for today. Spent most of the time at work beforehand contemplating what excuse to use to leave work early (splitting headache? brother's had a car crash? tidal wave?). In the end I just said: "feel a bit like shit and need to go home" and buggered off pronto! At the dentist it was discovered that I have somehow smashed a chunk off my tooth (whilst pissed no doubt), and it was too big a gap to plug with a normal filling so would have to be "root filled" (ie. drilled-the-fuck-out) and because it had grown over the hole my gum was going to have to be cut back. Nice. Today's session was just the gum butchery and drill-happy madness (plus temp filling), have to go back next month to complete the mission. Can't wait(!). Feel a need to go for a solo bike ride round my old local trails to unwind...
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Take A Picture" by Margo Guryan.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

"jey ... wheeze ... boy" 

Now that the clocks have gone forward (and also because I couldn't make it along to the usual thursday night ride in Calderdale) I decided to resume my post-work road riding sessions. "The Chaigley Loop", as it is known round these parts, was the route of choice. Just under 20 miles in length and full of nightmarish gradual rises and scary-fast descents all on deserted minor roads in lovely Ribble Valley countryside. Started out far too fast as usual, had a bit of meltdown near Walker Fold as usual but somehow managed to complete it in under an hour. 57mins 20secs to be exact (and that was with baggy shorts, helmet peak, leg hair and Camelbak weighing me down an' all!). Dismounted the bike at the end and very nearly fainted (tunnel vision etc) which was followed by a surprise half hour long attack of severe toothache! The ironic thing is that I have blagged next tuesday off work using the old "got a dental appointment" excuse to go riding with Craig and now it looks like I may need a real appointment after all! For some stupid reason I think I really enjoyed it and now I can't wait to road ride again.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "ten" by cLOUDDEAD. (b'day prezzie off Crumbs - cheers dude!)

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